A New Wildlife Pond (Finished...at last)

  • In reply to gaynorsl:

    Well done G, you may have seen by now that I've put P(ww)A out of his misery on his other thread ... decided to reinstate myself on his CC List!!

     

     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • In reply to WendyBartter:

    You're getting soft in your dottage Wendy, LOL  Glad you did or we'd all have beeen batty by now.

    Lot to learn

  • In reply to gaynorsl:

    It's great to have you back Paul, I've been really missing your updates, although I've been in & out a bit myself. You pond is coming on amazingly & look forward to your next update.

    I'm so sorry to hear about Ceilidh, I've tears in my eyes just thinking about it. 9 yrs isn't very old for a cat but we've lost several cats at around that age, either by illness or disappearing. I'm sure it was a very sad time for you all, she was a lovely cat.

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • In reply to Noisette:

    Thanks everyone.

    TJ: I’m looking forward to next spring, as you say. Most of the plants in the pond are of the floating or sinking variety, I didn’t want to overdo things as the pond is quite small. I’ve also done some planting in other areas, as you’ll see in a later update.

    Catlady: I wasn’t going to leave the community, I’ve just had a lot of other stuff going on for a while which have been keeping me busy. I’m so sorry to hear about your own loss of a wee cat earlier in the year, it is hard to get used to them being away, each one has a totally different character.

    Gaynor: I’ll post some photos of Mrs A’s baskets and garden in a later update. If you’re planning to do stuff in your garden, please take some photos so we can see what you’re up to. As I said to TJ, there’ll be a bit more planting involved in this thread before it’s done.

    Hazel: I hope you’re settling into your new house, do you have any plans for a pond there yourself? I’m also sorry to know that you’ve lost your own cats. Ceilidh was a great wee cat, mad as a brush at times though.!!

    Wendy: You were never off the Christmas card list, although when I checked it this morning, you seem to be a wee bit further down it than I thought you were…..very strange.!! Plenty time for adjustments though.!!

    Thanks again to everyone for your kind sentiments about Ceilidh, it is very much appreciated.

    Paul

    My bird photos HERE

  • In reply to Paul A:

    Hi folks, as promised, this next update will cover the building of a Hibernaculum. Just in case you didn’t know, a Hibernaculum is a place where things spend the winter in hibernation. I’m not sure if Hibernaculum is even the correct word, my spell checker always tries to change it to Hibernacula; Perhaps someone would know the correct word (maybe Bente if she reads this, with her knowledge of a bit of Latin), or maybe not. I’ll keep calling it a Hibernaculum for now though, until I’m advised not to.!! If you seen the original plans back at the start of this thread, you’ll know that a Hibernaculum was always intended to be part of the pond build. I mentioned before that I’d like somewhere close by, where possibly amphibians would choose to hibernate. I believe that many other wee beasties and things will also find their way into the Hibernaculum, a readymade take-away for potential amphibians as well. This first shot shows where the Hibernaculum is to be sited, at the far side of the pond and under the shelter of the trees. This area also tends to be quite dry due to the trees using up the water in this area, also a consideration in the building of a Hibernaculum. I wouldn’t want it to be flooded out, although a bit of dampness inside is to be expected, probably even desired.!!

    The new Hibernaculum site, before being cleared.

    The job of clearing the undergrowth begins, you can see my Hedgehog box in the back (at the left), underneath the pile of wood.

    A closer view of the Hoggy Home, the entrance is to the left. Although the Hog House has been in situ for over a year, when I cleaned it out in the summer it didn’t appear to have been used in any way. We have seen Hedgehogs (and plenty of their ‘calling cards’) in the garden though. I refilled it with nesting materials and re-buried it back under all of the sticks again. Hopefully they’ll use it this winter.

    Whenever I'm doing things in the garden, expert advice and supervision is never far away. Possibly due to the proximity of his box, Harry was taking an active interest in the proceedings.!!

    The Hibernaculum is going to be built using various materials, but the main structure is to be made with some old wooden pallets. This shot shows the bottom pallet in place so that I could mark out an area to dig down to the required depth. It has to be dug down into the ground due to the limited space that I have at the far side of the pond. The Hibernaculum will be buried under the soil, and if I was to build it from ground level up, the overspill from the soil pile would take up too much space and overflow into the pond. This may sound a wee bit confusing to you at the moment, but I promise it will all become clear soon.

    The lower level pallet, so I know where to start digging.

    I decided upon three pallets for the Hibernaculum, the upper two being the same width as the larger lower one, but also narrower. Using three pallets of the same size would once again mean a much larger pile of soil to cover them up, also it just so happened that I got a hold of the pallets for free (always a bonus).!! The hole for the pallets has now been dug out (it took me hours to dig it out, lots of old roots to get through). I dug it deep enough so that with two of the pallets inside the hole, the structure would still only be level with the surrounding ground. The first pallet is now placed into the hole, (a good six or seven inches below ground level).

    Various different things are going to be put into the recesses within the Hibernaculum, I want to have plenty of varied habitat and ‘hidey holes’ for things to get tucked into. This next shot shows the things that’ll be going in. We have dry leaves, moss, old flower pots, bits of bamboo, twigs and wee bits of old wood, and various different bits of stone. A good variety of materials will hopefully attract a good variety of new residents.!!

    A decent amount of the excavated topsoil from the pond hole will also be going into, and over the top of the Hibernaculum. Don’t let the single wheelbarrow of soil fool you, it’s going to take maybe nine or ten barrows before it’s finished.

    We begin by putting lots of the materials into the recess below the pallet. There are lots of ‘nooks ‘n’ crannies’ for things to get into, even the old flower pots could easily accommodate a large Frog or Toad.!! I’m also making sure that there are plenty of spaces so that it’s not ‘jam packed’ with stuff.

    A closer view of the lower level.

    In this next photo, you’ll see that I’ve used some of the spare pond liner insulation to cover the lower layer of the Hibernaculum. I’ve cut a few holes in the top (all will become clear), and I’ve made sure that I’ve completely covered all the surrounding areas at the sides. Covering the areas at the sides means that when I fill it in with soil, the soil won’t spill into the lower level and completely fill it up. The pond liner insulation will also let moisture through, which I wanted it to do anyway.

    The layer is now filled in with topsoil, (packed down around the outside edges of the pallet), with a thin layer of soil placed over the top of the lower level.

    This shot shows how the topsoil has fallen down through the hole I had cut in the liner insulation, creating sloping ‘ramps’. This provides access, and allows things to move between the different levels within the Hibernaculum.

    The next pallet is then placed on top of the first one. You may have noticed that I’ve cut a few holes into the top of this one; the planks of wood were too close together to allow any access for larger things, such as Frogs and Toads.

    Once again, the process of creating habitats within the second level begins.

    Again, I've used the pond liner insulation to seal things off. Please notice that I've also cut holes in the top, this is to allow access between levels two and three. You may also have noticed that I've left a gap at the front this time? Level two is to be the entrance (and exit) to the Hibernaculum.

    The next step is to begin the construction of the entrance.

    I’ve made the entrance using some decent sized stones. Once the top level of the Hibernaculum is finished, with all the topsoil and other stuff, there’s going to be a lot of weight pushing down on it all. The lower level had strong blocks of wood between the planks of the pallet, and in the second level I put some thick stones under the planks to support the weight. It’s a wee bit like a mini Stonehenge type of access, I could maybe start charging 'new age hippie types' to come and dance naked around the pond….but upon reflection….(heh heh)……perhaps it would be better if I didn’t.!! Please notice also that the two levels are still slightly below ground level.

    Everything is then (once again) filled in with the topsoil. I packed the soil around the entrance very firmly to help prevent the lower levels from flooding, although as you’ll see in a moment, I’ve also taken extra precautions against this. You may also have noticed that the entire structure (so far) is now sitting level with the surrounding ground. Please also notice the access holes from level two to level three. Anything entering the Hibernaculum will have the choice of going down another level, up another level, or staying put in the second level.

    The third level is now filled with bits and pieces (note the large stone in the middle) this is to help support the weight, as I mentioned earlier. The access holes are still uncovered though.

    A closer view of one of the access holes between levels two and three. All of the access holes have the sloping earth ramps, as I described back at the beginning of this update.

    The final pallet is placed on the top and covered over. Even though this is the top level, I’ve still cut a few holes in the liner to allow access to things that may burrow down through the soil, rather than gain access through the ‘official’ entrance.

    A thin layer of topsoil is applied, just to hold the liner in place for the moment. More work needs to be done at the entrance before the whole lot is buried under lots more topsoil…and rocks.!! The entire structure from top to bottom is around two and a half foot in height, so as you can see, burying the lower two levels has still only left around eight inches or so of structure above ground level. Excellent, I love it when things go to plan.!!

    During all of this, I actually took very few photos of the birds, although this passing Gull did insist upon having its photo taken.

    In my garden, you rarely look up without seeing a Starling.!!

    My Sparrow tree was still bearing fruit.!!

    Albeit with the occasional shy one.!!

    Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, the entrance, time for a bit of fun.!! When I dug the hole for the pond, I dug out lots of really heavy clay from the deeper parts of the hole. The warm weather had dried it out, so the use of a hammer was needed to break it up a bit.

    With the basic ingredients, clay and water, we get to make some mud.!! Oh the joy of it all, what wee boy didn’t enjoy playing in the mud.?? If I’m to be honest, I still like playing in the mud, just don’t tell anyone.!! Anyway, we end up with a fantastic, heavy, sticky, clay based mud.

    The clay is then used to make a watertight entrance to the Hibernaculum. Once it dries in, the clay will be very hard and dense, so should be a decent material to use in the prevention of too much water getting into the Hibernaculum.

    This shot, taken from the side, shows that the clay has been shaped so as to have an upward slope at the entrance, before sloping back down into the Hibernaculum. This will prevent any heavy rain from running straight in. The two large stones (one at either side of the entrance) have also been placed there for a reason.

    I had kept this big flat stone back for the specific purpose of acting as an overhang, or ‘cap stone’, for the entrance. The stone is sealed in using the gloriously sticky mud mixture, and also at a reasonably steep angle, angling down towards the pond, and away from the entrance to the Hibernaculum. The two big stones in the previous photo are used to support the weight of the overhanging stone. All of these measures will ensure that even in the heaviest of rain, the entrance to the Hibernaculum will never have water running straight into it.

    The job of covering everything up then begins. It’s surprising just how much material is actually needed to do this.!! As you can see, I’ve used a mixture of soil and stones, the idea is to create a rock garden (of sorts) on top of the Hibernaculum.

    More stones and soil.!!

    Although the topsoil doesn’t look too good, it’s actually only really dry, and is very good topsoil indeed. I don’t suppose that a wee bit extra compost mixed in will do it any harm though.!!

    A final shot for this update. If you look at the size of the mound of stones and soil now covering the Hibernaculum, you'll now realise why I built the first two levels underground.!! If I had built it from the ground level up, the whole thing would have ended up around five feet high and around fifteen to twenty feet in diameter.!! There just wasn’t enough space to do it any other way. I’m happy how it’s turned out though. The temperature within the Hibernaculum should be reasonably stable throughout the winter, and in the very unlikely event that it floods, anything in the lower levels will be able to move up through the higher levelss to where it’ll be drier. So, there you have it, a Hibernaculum. The next update will cover the planting of it, and there’s still a bit of finishing to be done around the edges.

    Oh, I nearly forgot to ask; did you notice anything different in the last few shots? The pond had lost its brown muddy colour, and is beginning to turn green…..It lives….my creation lives.!! (Psychotic mastermind’s laugh)……..

    My bird photos HERE

  • In reply to Paul A:

    Where do you get your ideas from Paul? That's absolutely amazing. I've never heard of anyone doing a hibernation home before, but what a kind & thoughtful person you are!

    Your pond is looking good too & the grass is also staring to grow, although it's cetainly not growing under your feet!LOL!

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • In reply to Noisette:

    My reply posted twice in succession so deleting this one !!

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    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to Noisette:

    Fantastic update Paul - these threads are an education in themselves lol,  totally fascinating stuff and full of ideas for the rest of us to encourage more wildlife :)   what a lot of work you have carried out in your beautiful garden by you and Mrs.A, its an absolute haven for all creatures great and small and do hope you get a hoggy this winter along with new visitors and residents.   Great stuff, look forward to the next thread  lol

    _________________________________________________________________________

    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to HAZY:

    Thanks so much the two Hazels, for your very kind comments. I would like to say that the idea was all mine, but I actually seen a man on Youtube building a Hibernaculum. The pond idea had been on the backburner for a few years, and it was a while ago when I came across the guy on Youtube building one. He built it from the ground up though, and only with two levels in it. He had also used a few bits of plastic piping for access from a few different directions. I had actually bought several feet of plastic tubing to use for different entrances, but in the end I decided to build the entrance as you've just seen. Whether anything will use it is a different thing though, I don't suppose I'll ever know for sure, unless of course I'm actually staring at it when something goes in or out.!! The main thing is, it's there if it's needed. The next part is the planting of the area, this is like the glue that brings all the pieces together and finalises it all. That's for another update though. I'm looking forward to see how it goes next year, it was very late in the season before it was planted up this year.!!

    Paul

    My bird photos HERE

  • In reply to Paul A:

    You will have to get one of those inspection cameras that you can shove down the different entrances  - a bit like undergoing a Hibernaculumoscopy  LOL !!

    post edit:  found just the thing .......but its a bit expensive !   CLICK HERE

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    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again"