The pond was the first new feature added to the site (see our history of Rawcliffe Meadows) as it was being developed – who could tell now? Having first been fenced in the early days to keep out dogs, this became a necessity to keep cattle from the tansy plants. The fencing was replaced in 2015.
Three trailer loads of silt were provided by the National Rivers Authority from the River Derwent, this was spread manually around the banks.
Abundant wildlife including the tansy beetles, and a mixed hazel copse along with the surrounding willows make it look a very old feature!
When the site is flooded, as part of York’s defences, the pond can see a big change. Fish and other creatures move out and in.
This picture of flooding in early 2006 shows just how deep it can be, and this is still with a metre or so to go!
Quite early on we found that tansy plants established on the mounds by the pond soon became a home to quite large numbers of Tansy Beetles so efforts were then made to increase the number of plants whilst cutting back the trees to prevent shading. Competing vegetation around the tansy clumps is also managed. This care has made the pond compound home to a nationally important population of the beetle.
The Pond Itself
The Pond sees frogspawn, along with toads mating in the spring and smooth newts have frequently been found in the course of pond dips. Pond dipping sessions reveal a wide variety of aquatic life. In the early days a large number of great crested newts were officially transferred to the Pond from a nearby site under development.
Each year two days are spent in the autumn, when the Tansy Beetles have gone underground, cutting back the vegetation and coppicing the willows. This reduces the potential monoculture from the stronger plant species, whilst providing fresh tansy shoots for the beetles in the following spring. Some might consider this cutting back too radical but it is entirely necessary. It has also been found necessary to pollard trees, where they might shade the tansy plants, as shading has been found detrimental to plants and beetles.
The strip of grassland leading down to the Pond from the Barrier Bank was created from the spoil excavated to make the Pond. This was sown in September 1991 and quickly became naturalised. It supports some of the most species-rich grassland on the site along with many plants characteristic of MG4 grassland and shows a transition between this community and MG5. Nationally Scarce invertebrate species have also been recorded from this habitat.
This project is very inspiring and potentially educational and health giving!!!