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The pond: an update August 20, 2012

Filed under: Nature and wildlife — lauravw @ 6:14 pm

Well the main thing to say about our pond is that it is now a thing that exists, as opposed to just a plan. My role in the project has been ordering the necessary bits and bobs – I can’t claim to have done any of the digging and hard work that brought this about.

I ordered this pre-formed pond liner, which I liked because of the fact that it has shelves at two depths, to cater better to different kinds of pond plants. It also has a built-in escape route for any non-aquatic creatures who are unlucky enough to fall in. (We’ve supplemented this by adding rocks that would also allow creatures a place to rest/climb out.)

The most exciting part of the process was when the pond plants arrived. We ordered this starter pack of native species for wildlife ponds, and a few days later a big brown box marked fragile turned up. Inside were nine (!) separate packages, each with their own instructions as to what to do with them – plant with 10cm water over the top, allow to float on the surface, allow to sink to the bottom, etc. Some of the plants were in little plastic baskets, which you just lower into the water. Others came in sealed containers with a little bit of water in – so we put that in as well. There were several different kinds of creepy crawly in there too, which is good news in terms of developing our pond’s ecosystem. We’ve seen a little water snail, and other things that I will have to look up in a book to learn more about. Opening each of the little packages felt Christmassy, in that we had no idea what type of plant would be in each one.

Though we’ve never had a pond before, there are frogs in our garden, and I’m hoping the pond will improve their quality of life. We also get bats flying around the garden at night, and the pond will hopefully be something that brings flying insects to the garden, generating food for the bats. In the long term, we’re really hoping we’ll see newts at some point, but we’ve not seen them in the garden before, so that could take a while.

For a few days the main wildlife activity was from our little cat, who likes to head down to the pond for a drink whenever we take her outside. But on Saturday morning there much excitement when a frog was spotted in the water! He had a good swim round, and then stood up, with his head just out of the water. We watched him for a while before heading out to do our Saturday morning errands, and he’d gone by the time we came home. I hope he visits again soon.


A learning curve August 12, 2012

Filed under: Nature and wildlife — lauravw @ 3:06 pm

I bought a squirrel feeder a couple of months ago.

We have quite a few birdfeeders, and the local squirrels have been helping themselves to food for years. This tends to involve them hanging upside down, or doing other daring things. And while they are doing this, the cat from across the way likes to try to catch them, which I find very upsettting.

So while I don’t mind the squirrels eating the food I’ve bought for the birds, I would very much mind if that darned cat were to eat the squirrel.

I found you could buy squirrel feeders from the same place I get my birdfeeders, so I ordered one, and enthusiastically filled it with all sorts of food that I thought the squirrel might enjoy. I thought it would be safer for the squirrel if he had his own feeder that was designed for him, since he would no longer have to hang upside down. The feeder has a little ledge for him to sit on, and from there he can be more aware of when there is a cat approaching. It’s also on a higher fence, so he’s further out of reach of cats.

I watched. And waited. Occasionally a squirrel would approach, look through the glass at the food, and completely fail to realise that the lid lifts up. So it’s been pretty much unused for the past two months – very disappointing. We tried propping the lid open with sticks, so that they could get used to accessing the food, and that has finally worked – last week we saw a squirrel lifting the lid by himself and eating from the range of foods inside (you can see a picture of it in action here).

Well done squirrel.