Friday, 31 July 2020

The Tale Of The Dipping Pond

Mel decided we really could do with a pond, mainly for educational use, but also as a water source for wildlife. So in 1995 we got a grant to pay for a JCB to dig the pond. We had done a trial dig and thought the area was simply clay. However, when the JCB got about 4ft down it hit a stone pavement, presumably where the coal merchants’ huts had stood. The current ground level had been made up some time before Mel moved in in 1975, as it was already vegetated when he arrived. We tried to puddle the existing clay to line the pond, having a very wet and muddy afternoon.

Puddling the clay to line the pond

Filling the pond

However only the bottom held water, because of the pavement and the soil tipping above that, so we got another grant and bought a liner, and the pond was filled by hosepipe from Mel’s outside tap in 1996 (no water meters then). This was left running all night - Barbara Roberts remembers trying to sleep with it running. Two buckets of water from a good pond at Willaston brought in some initial mini-beasts, and the beetles, dragonflies and so on flew in. Frogs moved in from a bath-tub pond in Mel’s garden. Some pond plants were bought with grant money and Barry Porter MP “planted” them – actually handed them to Mel, who was standing in the pond in waders, to plant.

Newt from the pond

In 1998, Mel became aware of 3 ponds about to be filled in, which had small numbers of smooth newts. One was on the sewage works site at New Ferry shore, another in Birkenhead, and there was one more. In total 7 adults and bunch of larvae were put into the pond, so small numbers, but a variety of sources seemingly gave us good genetics, because they bred rapidly, eating out the frogs over a few years. However the newts are a major attraction, and between adults and efts are there to be caught all summer. They are remarkably tolerant of pond-dipping!

An eft

In 2005 the pond developed a leak and the water level fell drastically.

As many as the pond creatures and plants as possible were removed and kept in buckets of water. A new lining was put in place with the help of a work party from Scottish Power.

A new dipping edge was cemented into place and then the Fire and Rescue came at 4.30 p.m. to fill the pond. They decided to do it straight away but got called to an emergency so came back an hour later to finish it.

Here is the hard working team.

In July 2018 the drought led to an incredible drop in the water level in the pond. It was a summer without pond dipping.

As soon as the rain returned the pond was teeming with life again and attracted a pair of ducks.

The pond returned to its glory.

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