Saturday, 11 June 2016

The Pond and other things

 We've had some glorious weather recently but the stream does dry up completely in places whenever we have a dry spell. This photo was taken on 9th June. The rock here is mainly limestone and there is a swallet which is a defect in the stream bed which allows the water to sink underground. It seems to have appeared sometime prior to 2013...  see here. Wikipedia says " A swallet, also known as a sinkhole, sink, shakehole, swallow hole or doline, is a natural depression or hole in the surface topography caused by the removal of soil or bedrock, often both, by water flowing beneath."

 We had rain overnight and this morning, 11th June, so I returned to the wood to get a photo of the stream  replete with water but I was surprised to see that the stream was still dry.
However, I heard a strange noise, a rapid scraping sound that took me a few minutes to locate. It wasn't a strange bird but a squirrel trying to extract some treat from a coconut shell. The sound reminded me of a washboard in a skiffle group... For those not familiar with this style of music  see here.
I'm sure it just needed the drumming of a woodpecker to have the makings of a band !!

Of course, the
 Of course, the dry weather affects the pond as well. There is no external source of water for the pond and so it suffers dramatically in dry weather. It relies entirely on rainwater. It doesn't look very pretty at all at the moment. Brownish red algae on the surface and a couple of empty drinks containers. There are nettles and brambles around the gate which can make entry a bit awkward too.

But it is worth the effort because there is a lot to see around the pond and water is vital to all sorts of wildlife. These Purple Flag Irises are in full bloom at the moment and will be attracting insects.

 There are also these Yellow Flag Irises.

Various insects will be attracted, including this Broad-Bodied Chaser dragonfly. It has been seen around the pond for the last week or so. This is a male and the females are a yellowish brown. The adults can live for up to a few weeks but the larvae live for 1-4 years in the silt at the bottom of the pond. Fortunately they can survive for short periods in mud during fairly dry conditions. The larvae will eat tadpoles and this might explain the lack of results from the frogspawn  I saw in the Spring. To see a larva hunting click here, but as they say on television....  "Some viewers might find this upsetting".
I've also added a photo of the female Broad-Bodied Chaser which was taken by Liz Snook on the day of the 'Bugs & Butterflies' walk on 29th May. The difference in colour is clear and I hope the two got together. The B&B day was a great success and we were treated to several butterflies and a lot of interesting information by Nicola and Tony of Bristol Naturalist Society. The society organises many walks and talks on a wide variety of topics and is well worth joining if you are interested in wildlife around Bristol.
 Here is a link to their gallery but do look around their website to see all the subjects they cover from birds to geology - Bristol Naturalists Society. They also have their own library housed in the Bristol museum.
If you are interested to learn more about dragonflies see here.

 I've put the close up photo of the Chaser's thorax because it clearly shows the principle of the thick, crusty exoskeleton which gives the body support in place of the skeleton. You can see more clearly if you enlarge the photo by clicking on it.
This dragonfly is about 2 inches long.

The insects and seeds around the pond attract birds, as well as being an important source of drinking water for birds around the meadow.
This house sparrow was on the fence around the pond and would be very happy to find some tasty bugs or seeds to feed on.

I mentioned the disappearing frog spawn. I was surprised to see it because I hadn't previously seen any evidence of frogs or toads. However, someone found a frog in the meadow during the B&B day.
Fortunately for the frog the meadow has grown quite high (see photo below) and this gives it good protection from predators such as the heron which visits occasionally. Also there are many insects, small slugs and beetles present which would be a good food source.  This frog is not much more than an inch long and although I'm no expert I would think this must be one of last year's batch. However, I am open to correction on that point.

This is the Welcome Board at the Doncaster Road entrance to the wood.
I'm not sure what sort of message it gives but it could do with a bit of attention. There have been problems with lost keys in the past but I think that has now been sorted.

There is a lot of colour in the meadow at the moment. There is clover, yellow rattle, red campion but not yet many butterflies. This beautiful Common Blue butterfly was enjoying the meadow clover last week but also feeds on Bird's-foot-trefoil. You might see the very similar Holly Blue in your garden which generally feeds on holly and ivy. Another difference is that the Common Blue flies low over the meadow whereas the Holly Blue flies higher around the trees and shrubs.

Below are photos of the meadow in all its glory, enthusiasts enjoying the Bugs & Butterflies Walk and a gorgeous little wren. A 'Jenny Wren' as my cousin likes to call it. 

There is so much to see in Badock's Wood and the only way to appreciate it is to take advantage of any good weather that we get and go down to the woods to enjoy it.... but don't let a light shower put you off  !!
If you do enjoy the wood and are interested in protecting it for the future then send your email address to the Friends of Badock's Wood secretary so that you can be kept informed of news and events. There is no charge to be a member and all the events are free.
The FOBW are fortunate to have a good number of volunteers for Work Parties and Litter Picking, although more are always welcome. However, very few members are actually involved in giving their opinions  and so contributing to decision-making for the future of the wood. It is important to get a wide spectrum of views about the upkeep of the wood and the best way to do this is for you to attend the quarterly meetings of the FOBW and/or to write to the FOBW Secretary with your comments.

  • You can enlarge photos by clicking on them.
  • The email address for the secretary of FOBW is
  • Click here  for the FOBW website.
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  • Mark Hamilton's book of poetry entitled 'In Badock's Wood and other Poems' is now on sale from Amazon. See here.

 If you wondered where all the garlic and horse chestnut flowers went, well they are turning into the fruits on the right. Garlic above.

mike townsend

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