As well as the underground river which runs at the foot of the Chilterns near Chinnor, there are also many natural springs – one of which is in the meadow behind our house. The previous farmer filled in the pond long before I was born and ever since then, that corner of the field has flooded. So a few years ago, my Grandad decided to reinstate the pond. He dug a big hole and put a liner in. This wasn’t the best idea, because the natural spring did what natural springs do, and pushed the liner up. But either way, we got our pond.
For the last couple of years, we haven’t had the time to clear the brambles and nettles, so they had really taken over. However, with lots of free-time and beautiful weather, my brother and grandad have been working tirelessly to clear the land so we could get to the pond. My job has been to clear the algae from the surface of the water. It’s not a pleasant job – I always come back smelling a lot worse than when I left. This year, for the first time ever, I slipped and found myself ankle-deep in pond sludge – utterly disgusting! But the pond is now clear.
It had been in such a state that we didn’t think anything could possibly survive. But then we noticed that a heron was taking a lot of interest. So, we dusted off our nets and to our surprise, we found a range of strange little creatures hiding in the depths. In the first couple of years, we had a lot of frogspawn – but then the newts arrived and took over. And it seems, despite the stinking, filthy water, they haven’t left. In a lucky ‘dip’, I pulled out 2 newts, some water boatmen and to my horror, a dragonfly larva. And for those of you who’ve never seen dragonfly larvae, they’re scary!
I don’t think I will ever grow out of my love for pond-dipping. Over the years, I must have caught hundreds of newts, but the excitement of seeing one wiggling around in the net has never left me. At the moment the amount of homework tasks coming in day after day has been daunting, so being able to escape to the pond for a while has been a welcome break.
Want to learn more about why ponds are an important habitat? Find out here!
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