by Jan Curry Round Hill Reporter" June 2005
Trouble with my waterworks - wildlife pond maintenance
Our butyl pond was made nearly twenty years ago. It is the home to a shoal of goldfish who are so well fed (by us) they luckily do not realise they could eat the toad and tadpoles that share the pond with them.
Dragonflies, damselflies, pond skaters, water beetles and newts also abound.
Nevertheless, for the first time ever, I’m a bit worried. The water looks scummy and turbid, different from the green algae that usually covers the surface for a week or two each spring until the water lily leaves bring some shade and the balance corrects itself to reveal clear water for the rest of the year.
We have thrown in bundles of barley straw, suggested by experts for this sort of thing (we bought them from a garden centre).
We have also added a proprietary organic mixture, so called safe to all life (except scum). We await results.
There is never a ‘good time’ to clear out an established pond and we certainly won’t do it in the spring, but I wish we had taken out all the leaves that fell in last autumn. I am sure that is part of the problem, or it could just be the frogs and toads churning up the mud — there are certainly a lot of them.
In fact, the dusk chorus croaked by dozens of amorous amphibians is nearly as loud as the dawn chorus sung by the birds, but not quite as beautiful.
Trouble with my waterworks or not, I wouldn’t be without a pond: it is such a magnet for wildlife, even here in the city. The birds bathe round the edge but they are nervous, so now I put hanging baskets around the garden, with dishes of water in them, instead of flowers, thus the birds can drink or bathe whenever they like, high up out of the reach of cats.