Pond Life

One thing we looked for when searching for a new home was a smaller garden.  Seems strange as most people want a bigger plot, yet we wanted to spend more time enjoying things and not tied to endless chores (one and a half hours lawn cutting in our last place!).  Our new garden suited us fine despite it being neglected for a while and needing a lot of clearing and chopping back.  It’s about a third the size of the previous plot but joy of joys it has a pond!  I’ve always wanted a wildlife pond (no fish) but have been too lazy to dig one, now I’m spending ages watching the comings and goings instead of getting on with other jobs.

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My new source of fascination! There is a mass of oxygenating plants and a couple of water irises so I’ve started adding marginal plants to give it more appeal to wildlife. The shrub at the back is Red-Osier Dogwood and is starting to produce white berries and the leaves a lovely autumn hue

I was delighted when I saw the first dragonfly appear and a little pond dipping revealed they had made use of the feature before, in among the weed and mud were several dragon and damselfly nymphs.  One day two exuvia (cast shells) were on an iris leaf, a darter and hawker, we had had babies!

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On sunny days a male Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) is often present. Usually it’s sitting on rocks for warmth here it’s making use of the dogwood

To date I have noted six species of odonata and egg laying by Common Darter and Southern Hawker.  Dragons are not the only visitors.  I’ve seen baby newts, a frog and lots of other bugs.

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Pond Skaters are fearsome looking creatures in macro, they prey on small insects that fall in the water and will even take damselflies!
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Yes it’s upside down. Water Boatmen come to the surface for air then swim back among the weeds using those two long legs as oars
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The wasps spend ages feeding on ivy blossom then pop down for a quick drink

I was delighted with the sixth species of dragon it was a Willow Emerald Damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis).  This damselfly only colonised the UK in about 2009 but is spreading across the country.  It lays it’s eggs in branches overhanging the water.  The larva when they emerge then drop down and continue development underwater.  Will it use the dogwood?  Probably not but it’s lovely to see one here.

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Nice visitor, the Willow Emerald Damselfly. Also known as spreadwings you can see why
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Up close with the Willow Emerald

Anyway must get on, jobs to do and ponds to watch!

29 thoughts on “Pond Life

  1. How exciting for you to have a pond! The Dragons are lovely! The Darter camouflages well on the Dogwood, and the Emerald is a beauty too.

    The Skater we call water skimmers. The Dragons eat those, don’t they? They must have plenty to eat to call your pond home. 😀

    We were thinking the same thing when we were house shopping back in 2016 about not only downsizing the house but also the yard and lawn space.
    Our new house has only a patio slab in the back yard with a small strip around it for flowers, and shrub grasses and the front lawn isn’t much bigger than 12ft x 12ft. He-Man has it mowed and trimmed lickity-split! It does have its perks not having a huge yard.

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    1. Never imagined having a small garden on the edge of town after so long in the countryside. Our frontage is gravel with the odd shrub and hedge, we are just adding planters to keep it simple. Love the pond and am probably spending far too long fussing over it but I have a vision with more planting it will be a dragon haven!

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    1. Thanks Wally. If things continue the way they are heading we might not be allowed to leave home! Hopefully it will not be the case. Next spring should be quite exciting when there will be more dragons about.

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  2. Certainly have yourself a great project there B!. Will be interesting to see how your plans for the pond unfold. Was running last week and noticed several very large Dragons (probably the largest I have ever seen) flying overhead and immediately thought of you – then I had to get back to focusing on the trail as the week before I managed to leave a good amount of blood in the dirt thanks to getting distracted and clipped a root. As always, nice work behind the glass – that last shot is mighty crisp.

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    1. Keep telling you take it easy! Don’t burn yourself out.
      I’m fussing over the pond probably far too much when there is so much more to do. Thing is I’ve had enough of working and am taking early retirement so will have all the time in the world but no money for a couple of years until I qualify for state pension. Just 4 weeks to go then freedom!

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      1. Congratulations B! I’m actually heeding your advice and notified my management mid September that I am hanging up the corporate life. Just got to make it to Thanksgiving, grab the camera and head to Texas for some extended birding and fun in the sun.

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    1. The weather is changing so not much is happening around the pond. I have finished planting it up so now I can concentrate on clearing other parts of the garden and decorating more of the house.
      Thanks for looking in Tanja, can’t wait for next summer!

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      1. It sounds as though you are getting a lot of projects done, Brian. It must feel good to morph your new property into the home you enjoy. A lessening of the distractions out-of-doors will enable you to get a lot done indoors, and when spring returns, you will be able to spend more time with the bees and the butterflies. 🙂

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