Looking for a way to get more nature into your garden? South Downs Ranger Chloe Goddard suggests turning an old bath into a haven for pond life.
As a Ranger, working from home is not that easy, but it’s definitely not all bad. There’s only so much time that can be spent on a laptop that’s on the brink of packing in and so I’ve spent the day exploring my own back garden in a little more depth.
When I moved in 3 years ago I recycled an old bath into a pond. Since then it’s seen relatively little attention except for me regularly checking to see if any frogs have moved in.
It has had frogs, but sadly they didn’t stick around (perhaps because of the numerous cats living next door, or perhaps because the dog slips in for a drink from time to time, or probably because the pond plants haven’t quite provided enough cover around the edges yet) but actually there’s so much more to a pond community than frogs.
My first guests were pond skaters, and then water boatmen and pond beetles.
Today I went for a dip in the bath tub and discovered a few new neighbours I hadn’t seen before.
As our pond survey equipment is currently self-isolating in our workshop, I had to create a pond dipping kit from things at home: an old sieve for a net (I will not be using this again for food preparation purposes, so if you’re thinking of doing the same consider how much you need it in the kitchen first), a casserole dish, a jam jar and some lids of old Ben and Jerry’s tubs (we’ve got plenty) to decant small creatures into for a closer look.
Some of my new friends included:
- At least two different species of damselfly larvae I’ve not been able to identify further
- A tiny pond beetle but I also spotted a much bigger one that kept evading my net
- Pond skaters.
- Hundreds of tiny baby water boatmen but the big ones were also able to escape capture
- A tiny flat worm of the Polycelis genus (this was actually swimming in the water butt and not the pond)
- Some mosquito larvae
- A cased caddisfly larvae and lots of empty cases from their predecessors.
If you have a pond at home now might be a great time to investigate what animals are calling it home. There are some great resources to help you identify what you find such as the Freshwater Habitats Trust.
You could even try to measure the quality of your pond for wildlife using The Big Pond Dip invertebrate survey method.
If you don’t have a pond but have the space to make one (even tiny ponds will attract plenty of wildlife) you can follow some of the tips on our Instagram Story for making your pond as wildlife friendly as possible.
There’s also lots of guidance online, for example the RSPB can show you how to make a mini pond.