Drought survivors

After 10 days of the New Pond being pretty much bone dry, we had some heavy rain yesterday which has added about 5 cm of water.

Here’s how it looked before and after (though it was not a thing of beauty at either time, I will freely admit. But beauty will have to come later!).

So here it is before, about 10 days ago…

Dry as a bone, with the plants dead or dying. Surely nothing could be alive?

And after the rain we’ve now got a few centimetres of water.

After yesterday's heavy rain - the first here for a couple of months - we've got some water.

So after two weeks with the pond pretty much bone dry I didn’t expect much to have survived because, with  a butyl liner, it really is dry. There’s very little damp cover in the pond – it has virtually no sediment and few water plants providing damp spots where creatures might hide away.

So I was quite surprised tonight to see that four species of water snail have survived, and also the aquatic larvae of a soldierfly (although unfortunately I don’t know which kind it is).

The survivors – below, for the record – are all pretty small specimens as well. I’d rather assumed that the small ones would be more vulnerable, but the opposite seems to be true.

So, here they are (sorry, not great pics, but I just wanted to document them)

Survivor number one: this tiny Smooth Ram's-horn is about 1.5 mm diameter. These are my best snails: like seeing a Turtle Dove or a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in the average surburban garden

Survivor number two: a baby Marsh Snail, about 3 mm long

Survivor three: a Whirlpool Ram's-horn: this one is quite large, maybe 2/3rds grown (about 4 mm across) and should be maturing, and able to lay eggs, fairly soon.

I didn’t get a picture of the fourth survivor: a Contorted Ram’s-horn. But all in all, snails have come out of this surprisingly well, and look likely to rapidly repopulate the pond as water returns.

I also saw several of these:

Larval soldierfly: a bit more detection needed here as I'm not good with this group

On the other hand, perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s no sign of my Large Reds – and I found one small one dead. But they may hatch from eggs. It will be interesting to see if they can survive droughts in this way. No water slaters – no real surprise there, and no shrimps. Again no surprise. I also saw one very small young pond skater which, being flightless, had succumbed. I imagine all the beetles flew off, and any amphibious Horse Leeches would have made a break for it too.

We will have to wait to see which of the plants have survived.

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2 Responses to “Drought survivors”

  1. Diana Says:

    I too was rather worried about our new pond which is much shallower than the old pond so the water appears to retreat much quicker, leaving the margins looking very dry. I was waiting for the rain to plant up the margins but decided if I did not do it soon, it would be too late for this year. I therefore ordered a few native plants (there are not many accessible ponds near us) and was surprised at how moist the soil was under the gravel although we have had very little rain. So hopefully the plants will survive even though I could not plant them in the water. So far we have only put subsoil around the edge of the pond, covered by gravel. There is a very thin layer of soil accumulating in the centre of the pond – but so far we have not added anything. I know sand is suggested but the cost of clean sand would be quite high our pond. The soil around us is very light sandy and we are surrounded by a field so I think it is inevitable that at certain times of year the soil will blow in. I cannot see any way around this.

  2. Jeremy Biggs Says:

    Hi Diane

    I’m waiting with interest to see how / whether my dried-up plants survive.

    I know think I’ve got Articulated Rush seed in the pond, and I assume there will be stonewort spores too. It looks like some of the Typha has survived as well.

    We will see.

    Jeremy

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