Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Native plants

To date we've had a lot of success with wildlife in and around the ponds. Although living in the south of the UK does help, this is probably mostly due to the large number of native plant species that we have in our garden. I'm still compiling a complete list of the native species we have elsewhere in the garden, but for now here's a list of the 39 native species that are either actually in the water or in the bog gardens next to the ponds:

Acorus calamus (sweet flag)
Alisma plantago-aquatica (water plantain)
Athyrium filix-femi (lady fern)
Baldellia ranunculoides (lesser water plantain)
Butomus umbellatus (flowering rush)
Calla palustris (bog arum)
Caltha palustris (marsh marigold)
Cardamine pratensis (cuckoo flower)
Carex pendula (pendulous sedge)
Carex pseudocyperus (sedge hop)
Dipsacus fullonum (teasel)
Eriophorum vaginatum (cotton grass)
Eupatorium cannabinum (hemp agrimony)
Filipendula ulmaria (meadow sweet)
Geum rivale (water avens)
Hieracium brunneocroceum (orange hawkbit)
Hydrocharis morsus-ranae (frogbit)
Iris pseudacorus (yellow flag iris)
Juncus effusus (soft rush)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)
Mentha aquatica (water mint)
Menyanthes trifoliata (bog bean)
Mimulus luteus (monkey flower)
Myriophyllum spicatum (water milfoil)
Nasturtium aquaticum (water cress)
Nuphar luteum (brandy bottle)
Nymphaea alba (white water lily)
Nymphoides peltata (fringed water lily)
Plantago media (hoary plantain)
Ranunculus aquatilis (water crowfoot)
Ranunculus flammula (lesser spearwort)
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Scirpus cernuus (fibre optic grass)
Scirpus lacustris (true bulrush)
Silene dioica (red campion)
Stratiotes aloides (water soldier)
Trifolium repens (clover wild white)
Typha angustifolia (narrow reed mace)
Veronica beccabunga (brooklime)

A few of these species of native plants can be found in your local garden centre, but there's a much greater selection on the internet. Some of the best sites that I've found for native pond and marginal plants include Puddle Plants, Wetland Plants and Naturescape (though if you order pond plants from Naturescape then be prepared to wait much longer than the delivery estimates on their website).

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Broad-bodied chaser

We were incredibly luck today. As usual I had taken a trip down to the pond to have a look around, but managed to miss a recently emerged dragonfly. Ian joined me and we sat on the bench. Only a minute before it took its first flight it caught Ian's eye and I managed to get a few photos before it took off. When it flew it actually hit the camera on the way past.

The dragonfly is a female broad-bodied chaser. We saw a male last year and another female earlier this year, but this is the first confirmation we've had that they're breeding at our pond. The species breeding at the pond also include the large red damselfly, common darter, golden-ringed dragonfly, southern hawker and the emperor dragonfly.

To the right of the chaser you can see the exuviae from which it emerged.

We have also had common blue damselflies and migrant hawkers in the garden, but I've yet to confirm if these are breeding at either of the ponds.

Banded demoiselle

Ian and I have seen banded demoiselles twice this month - firstly at the river Clyst and then again at the Old Sludge Beds Nature Reserve. I've seen banded demoiselles before, but not recently and never in Devon so this was the first time I'd managed to get a digital photograph.

Banded demoiselles are one of only two species of damselfly in Britain that have obviously coloured wings. Although quite common in Britain they prefer stream and river habitats rather than still water.

This is the male:

Sunday, 7 June 2009

The Big Pond Dip 2009 - our results

Today we did the big pond dip and found a surprising variety of wildlife including tadpoles, newtpoles, an adult newt, leeches, a backswimmer, mayfly larvae, water slaters, pond snails, pond skaters, water measurers, a dragonfly larva and lots of smaller things that I've yet to identify.

Dragonfly larva:

Mayfly larva:


Pond skater:

Water measurer:



Water slater:

Water snail:

The squirrel joined me to have a drink at one point:

and William supervised from his new favourite spot on the bench:

The Big Pond Dip 2009

UK charity Pond Conservation have organised the Big Pond Dip 2009. The dip aims to find out what wildlife people have in their garden and school ponds and to determine what type of ponds support the most animal life.

Today Ian, William and I did the dip in our big pond (okay William watched). I'll write another post with the results once I've identified a few more of the species, but for now here are some pictures of one of the really cute smooth newts that we disturbed:

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Summer flowers

Over the next few days I'm going to blog some pictures of flowers from the garden. There's a (completely unintentional) blue / purple / pink theme at the moment.

Penstemon true blue:

Aquilegia and sweet william:

Veronica spicata:

Delphinium King Arthur

The results of a thunder storm

I've been wishing for rain for over a week now and this morning we finally got it. It's been ages since I just lay and listened to a thunder storm - lovely.

The smaller pond is looking a little the worse for wear after the run-off from the clay soil caused lots of clay particles to be suspended in the water. The larger (more established) pond has cloudier water than normal, but fared much better because of the surrounding vegetation.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Lesser stag beetle

It's been a good week for insects at Frog End. A few days ago we had our first blue damselfly of the year. I suspect it was a common blue damselfly, but have yet to check - a lot of blue damselflies look very alike.

Yesterday I found a dragonfly exuviae. Unfortunately it fell in the pond in my attempts to access it, but I still managed to get some photos. I assume it's a common darter exuviae because it's very small, although it could be a broad-bodied chaser (though I've not seen them breed at our pond).

Today I found this female lesser stag beetle in a pile of fence panel slats. I've now thrown them away, but have moved the stag beetle to a lovely big log near the pond so I'm sure she'll be just as happy.

If you do see a stag beetle you can report your sighting via the great stag hunt.