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Pea Soup And All That

2nd of October 2002

Things in the wildlife pond have moved on a pace since my last notes. All ponds that are filled with tap water go through an “algal bloom” phase when the water turns green because of the chemicals in it. Ours turned into bright green thick pea soup after about a week and looked absolutely dreadful! Nature is a wonderful thing though and we need not of worried. The oxygenating plants soon got going and the water lilies shaded the water and now about six weeks after filling the water is quite clear. Water plants seem to grow at an amazing pace and the water lilies that we thinned out from our other ponds have produced masses of flowers and in some cases complete sets of new leaves. By using plants from established ponds we introduced water beetles, snails, and other pond creatures at the same time, sometimes as eggs on the undersides of leaves and sometimes just as little wiggly things caught in amongst the stems. Now that the water is clear one can see that it is teeming with life already. The heron is not the only water bird to visit, a couple of weeks ago at least five mallard ducks landed on the water. We could see them from the bungalow and were quite thrilled. This feeling did not last long though as by the time they had left at midday they had grazed our water starwort, one of the best native oxygenators, down to the bare bones! Fortunately it has just about recovered and we havent seen the ducks since. The dragon flies have been a real delight, with one beautiful blue male Broad Bodied Darter using one of our marker canes as a perch to dart off and catch passing midges.
There are 27 species of dragonfly in the British Isles and most belong to either the darter family or the hawker family. The darters sit on a perch and dart out at passing insects, while the hawkers patrol a regular beat over the pond to catch their dinner. One or two like the Ruddy Darter, with has a red body, and the Broad Bodied Darter which has a short fat body, are easy to identify, but most of the hawkers seem quite hard to tell apart. Have we had a Southern Hawker, an Azure Hawker, or even an Emperor whizzing around our heads?

They dont stop for long enough for me to count the spots on their thorax, and unlike the Victorians I am not going to kill one to find out. Wendy Bathurst

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