Return of the pondweeds

Most of the ponds at Flitcham contain no pondweeds. In 2016 we ran an experiment in which sediments were removed from an area of pond. This was fenced from cattle and a section netted to keep out all wildfowl. The result was a dramatic increase in pondweed growth where birds were excluded. In the area with no wildfowl:

  • Stonewort, Water Crowfoot and Horned Pondweed all grew to maturity
  • Reedmace grew, but being a perennial, did not flower in its first year
  • There was a more diverse and numerous community of freshwater fauna
  • The fauna included more tadpoles and stickleback than in the areas grazed by wildfowl, as well as our first record of Water Stick-insect

Areas protected from cattle but grazed by wildfowl had some initial growth of Stonewort and Water Crowfoot, but this almost completely disappeared as summer progressed.

This experiment and our management response to the results are described in more detail here

pond with no pondweeds

Pond bed with no pondweeds. This area was protected from cattle but open to grazing by wildfowl

Stonewort (Chara)

Pond bed with thick growth of Stonewort (Chara vulgaris). This area was protected from grazing by cattle and wildfowl

Experimental area with netting to keep wildfowl out of one area

The experimental area of pond with netting to keep wildfowl out of one section