Winter is a’comin in

A reminder of last winter's snowy pond

You can tell winter is approaching by keeping an eye out for the ‘winter pond advice’ columns.

So I wasn’t surprised to see this latest offering which advises on how to protect wildlife when you clean out the pond.

But is the key bit of advice…..

Minimise the damage to wildlife by removing the accumulated debris in the autumn or late winter.’

…..actually true?

Well, the simple answer is, we dont really know.

But here are a few thoughts:

As I noted the other day there are lots of animals in the pond all through the winter, though some others do come and go.

So dragonflies, damselflies, mayflies, caddis flies: all will have young stages in the pond over winter. There are likely to be adult water bugs and water beetles too. There’s a good chance that anything that can’t fly will be overwintering as well.

Some things are more seasonal: most young amphibians will have left the pond. Some of your water beetles will have flown to deeper more permanent ponds.

But most things will still be there.

So removing accumulated sediments and leaves could well remove the habitat of these animals.

So what’s to do? Well maybe remove a little bit of debris regularly each year rather than having a blitz every 5 years. And carefully wash the animals out of anything you remove, then return them (although you will of course have removed their homes). Putting debris on the side doesn’t work for most soft bodied creatures – its easy to see that they simply get stuck in the muck and die where you leave them.

In more natural environments than gardens a bit of gentle trampling and grazing by cattle, horses or sheep is a good way to manage ponds. We could all do worse than simulating something like this in our ponds at home.

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One Response to “Winter is a’comin in”

  1. Richard Says:

    Perhaps you could settle an argument between my wife & I – our pond is quite small (less than 1 square metre) – should we clear out leaves? my wife says yes to stop algae building up and I say no because it’s a habitiat for small pond critters.
    Who, if anyone is right?

    Thanks

    Richard

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