RSPB Scotland Volunteer Katie Monk shares the stories of wildlife living in and around their pond.

Pond adventures

For the first time since digging a pond last year, it is teeming with wildlife, with a nice balance between the amount of algae and clear water.

Over thirty tadpoles are rapidly metamorphosing into tiny froglets, with their tails starting to shrink and intricate patterning appearing on their faces.

The supermarket-bought watercress is amazingly one of the largest plants in my pond, with thick stems disappearing into the depths, perfect for the damselfly larvae to cling to out of reach of hungry bird’s mouths. Having never even seen a damselfly in my garden before, it seems to be a good indicator that my pond water is healthy and of good quality. The lesser spearwort’s full bloom of sunshine yellow flowers contrast with sombre dark green of the hornwort residing in the deepest part of the pond, whilst the most certainly ragged robin hangs over the edge of the pond with its scraggly pink flowers, attracting a variety of different species of bees and flies, the honey bees and bumblebees dominating the flowers.

pink yellow and blue flowers by pond

Whilst the marmalade hoverflies are pushed back towards the less colourful but vibrant lilac flowers of the brooklime and water forget-me-not. The revival of the amphibious bistort has been met with the re-occurrence of water-lily-like frogbit, which died back last late summer after tedious efforts trying to keep it alive.

It seems the sunshine has not only brought back the frankensteinian plants, but has led to legions of Lilliputian inhabitants; the water fleas almost taunting the clouds of mosquito larvae as they are consumed by predatory jaws: water beetles, tadpoles and the damselfly nymphs taking advantage of the abundance of the vulnerable larvae. It seems last year as I added aquatic plant life to my pond the packages did not just contain plants but also some hitchhiking Ramshorn snails who have continued their cycle of life to give way to a comfy population size of snails sliding along the sides of the pond liner.

pond

Next to the pond to add even more attraction to wildlife I planted a wildflower mixture which seem to be coming along nicely and some plants have dots of colour at the very spike of their leaves as the flowers start to emerge. In the midst of the flowers I have buried  a pipe as a sort of ‘toad abode’ which I hope will come in useful in the future, as the froglets make their pilgrimage across the garden looking for shady spots to gather their strength.

As the days lengthen into constant evenings, the couple of resident hedgehogs patter around in the darkness as the pipistrelle bats flit around the pond catching the unlucky insects. The next morning the pond can attract over ten different species of birds: the blackbirds fighting over the territory whilst hoping to make a meal out of the tadpoles, the rare goldfinch visitor, an army of house and tree sparrows coming to wash in the pond and bathe in the dust, fledgling starlings, a thirsty jay as a rare visitor, robins, woodpigeons, the occasional collared dove, chaffinches, blue tits, great tits and coal tits and the underestimated dunnock and sometimes a boisterous corvid all frequent the pond, the rocky edges looking like crowded beaches. A wildlife pond is not without drama, and over the next few weeks I look forward to watching and sharing the action playing out before my eyes. 

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