The Stangrove Pond Survey - 2006

Stangrove Pond Slide Show

Species found to be present

I have sought here to keep to simple listings running, as nearly as possible, from higher to lower orders and have, hopefully, been as accurate as possible in my identifications. This is fairly straightforward with the higher animals and plants but becomes increasingly difficult and time consuming, as one gets down to the lesser species. This is where a visit or two by some of the specialist groups or individuals, such as 'The Arachnid Recording Society' would pay dividends.

I saw no purpose in composing a fully classified taxonomy, which might only confuse, and where possible have kept to using common names, except where none exist, as with certain of the insects and spiders, etc.

My main method of examination was simple observation, by walking round the pond and ferreting about in the undergrowth and bushes. This was augmented with dipping of the shallow margins with a net and studying my catch in a white tray filled with water and, similarly, using a rake to remove detritus from the bed: checking the results with a hand lens once things had settled. I also carried out some beating of the terrestrial herbage and trees using an upturned umbrella to catch any dislodged specimens for identification. With the newts I resorted to torching, after dark, and examining the leaves (those in the water) of marginal plants for eggs, by day. Both methods gave positive results without the need to resort to bottle trapping, which would have required a license from DEFRA. I saw not a single specimen by daylight.

Overall results were extremely disappointing, with much that was recorded in the early nineties now missing. Some pioneer species, such as celery leafed buttercup, and black tailed skimmer (dragonfly), could have been expected to disappear as the area matured following the previous renovation. Other absences, such as the lack of any aquatic plants, save for a single struggling water lily (this also later disappeared), and a whole missing order (molluscs), are far more worrying.

Highslide JS
Examining the leaves - of marginal plants for eggs...
Examining the leaves...

In its prime the pond held at least three species of snail: ear snail, wandering snail and great pond snail. On this occasion I could find none (predation by ducks, or lack of aquatics?).

Perhaps the most surprising absence was reedmace, which was a pest in the past but has now disappeared entirely. This is no great loss in itself, although the aim was to control rather than to eradicate, but it is another reason why the ruddy darter (dragonfly) is also absent, as this somewhat scarce species has a complex involvement with the plant.

In compiling my list I have included everything at the site, both within the pond and around the banks, to about twenty metres from the waters edge, that I felt reasonably confident of identifying correctly. Certain orders, such as liverworts and mosses, have been omitted, not necessarily due to their absence, but rather because of my incompetence in identifying them.

Obviously some species are clearly more resident/reliant on the pond and its environs than are others. For instance freshwater shrimps are present at all times and complete their entire life cycle in situe, whereas birds and some of the insects may only visit to feed, or to breed, before venturing off into the wider countryside.

NOTE: As far as I could tell, virtually all of the wholly aquatic fauna and flora had disappeared by late July, except for sludge worms, which rather ominously, are also known as 'sewage worms' due to their ability to survive extreme conditions of pollution. By the end of the survey even these appeared near to extinction. It is to be hoped that some life above the microbial level is surviving in a dormant state as eggs or seed in the deeper areas and may re-emerge in the spring, if water levels are replenished.