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Pond Dipping at Brandy Hole Pond

December 13, 2011 2011 Winter No Comments
Pond dipping at Brandy Hole Copse

Sarah Hughes (in water) leading the pond dipping from Brandy Hole Pond

On 3 August, Sarah Hughes, Chichester District Council’s Community Wildlife Officer led a pond dipping session at Brandy Hole Pond. Sarah brought with her a number of parents and children from the Graylingwell Estate, and they were joined by parents and children from East Broyle led by Friends of Brandy Hole Copse Membership Secretary Michelle Craddock. In all, some thirty people enjoyed themselves.

The children discovered Freshwater Shrimps, Flatworms, Snails, Leeches, and Water Hoglice. Brandy Hole Pond turned out to have an average biotic index of 3.5 which, for the less scientifically-minded among us, should be compared with a predicted biotic index of 10 for a clean upland stream  We can probably improve the pond’s index with some sympathetic dredging, followed by a top-up of clean water.

We hope to do more pond dipping next spring. If you wish to be involved, please contact Sarah Hughes (shughes@chichester.gov.uk ) or FBHC.

Rain doesn’t deter pond dippers

May 30, 2007 education, Friends No Comments

Nearly 50 people braved the pouring rain and chill of this May half term to spend a morning pond dipping in Willow and Cops ponds in Brandy Hole Copse. Lots of pond creatures were spotted including plenty of the popular newts and tadpoles. Keen eyes also spotted baby newts looking like a mini cross between a tadpole and fish.

Less common creatures were also seen, including ferocious-looking dragonfly larva and also two Water Scorpions with their long straight tails that we learnt were actually breathing tubes. The number and variety of creatures indicated that the ponds continue to be ecologically healthy.

Led by Judi Darley and Graham Ault from the Friends of Brandy Hole Copse committee, the event was considered a great success and gave the opportunity to use pond dipping equipment purchased with grant funding from the Woodland Trust.

Judi said “We wondered if anyone would turn up in the wet and chilly weather and we were pleased and surprised to see so many people brave the weather to come along and have a great time”.

The next event will be a moth and bat walk in August.

From the chairman

October 2, 2006 2006 Autumn No Comments

I am writing these thoughts as the summer is coming to a close and autumn is slowly emerging. It has been such a hot summer, although August was less so, but the impact of the heat and lack of rainfall in June and July are very obvious all around us and no less so in the Copse. I suppose this is a mini-vision of what the future may well hold for us, and shows us some of the many challenges for a small group like ours, not to mention the world! I gather from the experts that nineteen of the twenty hottest summers have occurred since 1980!

The obvious signs of the summer heat in the Copse are the water levels in the ponds, which reflect the ground water levels in the area. Brandy Hole Pond has been as low as I have seen it and bordering on dry. Even the rainfall in August has made little or no impact on it. I hope when you read this, things will have improved, but such low water levels have many impacts on the environmental balance in and around the ponds. Willow pond seems to have survived surprisingly well, although the levels are very low. Cops pond has all but disappeared. It may be some time before we know the impact of all this on the nature reserve.

A hot summer has certainly brought us some happy events this year. For the fourth year in a row there have been sightings of White Admiral butterflies in the Copse, especially around Willow and Cops Ponds. The difference this year is that the butterflies were much easier to find and they stayed around for several weeks. I saw two of them regularly in that area on a daily basis and I think there is a good chance they may have bred in the area, possibly for the first time. It was also a good summer for other butterflies, including the beautiful Silver-Washed Fritillaries, and we had good sightings of Purple Hairstreak, a very elusive butterfly. It was also a good year for Commas, Painted Ladies and many of the regular inhabitants.

Another high point was the discovery and positive identification of Common Spotted Orchids in the triangular field south of the woodland area. I managed to see these a few days before the whole field was cut, which was fortunate timing. These types of discoveries are helpful to us all in establishing the importance of the Nature Reserve and promoting our ambition to expand it by acquisition of the triangular field. I hope Members of the Group will report all interesting sightings of any sort to any committee member so these can be recorded.

We have had some great successes this year in raising awareness of the Copse in the local community and developing our educational role. The great morning’s pond dipping back in April was a huge success and it was a delight to see so many smiling young faces totally absorbed in whatever was lurking in the mud. It was also great to be able to survey our pond life at the same time and know that we have a very healthy population of frogs, toads, newts and other creatures in what are, after all, man-made ponds.

Many of you will be aware of our activities this year as part of the Chichester Festivities in July. The talk on the Wednesday evening was a great success and we were delighted to welcome some 50 visitor, many of whom were not familiar with the Copse. Similar numbers came to the guided walks on the Saturday when we had wonderful weather and lots of good natural history sightings. My thanks to Mike Perry of the Chichester Natural History Society for his personal contribution to these events. I am sure we will do something similar next year.

The same thanks apply to the Bat Walk we held in August, when a surprising number of people turned up with torches to be not only educated but thoroughly entertained by Peter Etheridge. Again the weather was good and we saw or heard plenty of bats. It was particularly pleasing to see so many children present.

The Committee has been considering the best way to spend the money that was donated at the end of last year in response to our leaflet campaign. You may have seen the new pond-dipping platform on Cops Pond which is one such development. We have also purchased more educational equipment including a microscope. We plan to buy some hard-wearing, bird-friendly ‘woodcrete’ nesting boxes to put up in time for next spring. These are quite expensive but more resistant to attack from larger birds, squirrels and humans.

Unfortunately, another down side of the hot summer was the increase in vandalism and inappropriate behaviour in the Copse. We had the usual cycling problems, although these have not been too bad based on my own experience. Of more concern was a spate of vandalism at the Brandy Hole Pond and in the Lane. The pond-dipping platform was ripped out (again) and the leaflet box removed, broken and thrown into the pond. I know there were several other incidents in the Lane, including fires and criminal damage.

In the Copse itself the weather has resulted in some overnight camping, drinking groups and the lighting of fires. I personally confronted one group of youngsters who had lit a fire and had no idea of the potential fire risk they were creating at a time of such dry conditions. I persuaded them to put the fire out, which they did. I returned later to find that it had been relit.

I have spoken to the District Council about the ever increasing fire risk and incidences of fires being lit, and they have helpfully consulted with the Police and the Fire and Rescue Service. Our response to fires in the Copse should now be to call 999. We will continue to work with the Police and the District Council to try to address these concerns, and I suspect we will have to increase the notices in the Copse to tell people what is and is not appropriate behaviour in a nature reserve.

I don’t want to finish on a negative note. There are so many good things about the Copse as a nature reserve and the value it has for our local community that we must continue to work to keep it safe and to educate everyone on its significance to Chichester. Your hard-working Committee will carry on with that work as well as continuing to maintain the reserve on a regular basis. Your support in that work is so important, and so I will close by hoping that you will all renew your membership (please use the standing order form as it is easier for all of us) and continue to enjoy Chichester City’s only designated nature reserve.

Graham Ault,

Secretary’s report to AGM 2005/2006

Activities in year 2005-2006

  • BHCCG involved in C.D.C “Chichester in Bloom” scheme
  • Our “Queens Award for Volunteers” application was rejected
  • Attended two BTCV environmental training days
  • 300 more Booklets purchased for sale to the public
  • We gave 5 Guided walks and 4 slide talks to local groups
  • Organised a Pond Dipping event and hosted Moth & Bat survey evenings
  • System of Volunteer Wardens set up to monitor the Copse
  • Woodland Trust grant enabled us to purchase more tools & equipment
  • Two BHCCG Notice Boards installed in the Copse for information
  • 3 leaflet box posts installed to distribute BHCCG and Dog Control leaflets
  • Pond-dipping platform built at Cops Pond
  • 2 Rustic seats put up on top bank and refurbished access stiles.
  • Two Glades were cleared to encourage more Butterflies.
  • Hawthorn hedge planted along the boundary of Bridge abutment
  • Access path to Centurion Way from B.H.Lane resurfaced by WSCC.
  • C.D.C completed safety work on all dangerous trees throughout Copse.
  • Public liability Insurance for BHCCG renewed for 2006/7.
  • Contractor completed coppicing in the Copse for this year.
  • All mature trees tagged for identification mapping & a possible tree trail.
  • Tree Preservation Order obtained on some of the mature trees along the boundary.
  • The Wrenford Centre are producing Bird Boxes to replace those vandalised.
  • WSCC refused our request for a speed limit at the Parking area, but have agreed to our request to complete the footpath in the lane from Lavant Road.
  • Ponds look in good shape but there are no ducks on B.H.Pond this year.
  • Sunday work party was abandoned but maintenance work continues with Wednesday afternoon group every week throughout the year.

Jim Ayling 1/6/06.

What a lot lives in the Copse ponds

April 2, 2006 2006 Spring No Comments

We are delighted to report that more than 50 people attended our first pond dipping event at Willow and Cops Ponds on April 1, and no, it wasn’t for communal bathing…

Pond Dipping

Pond Dipping at Willow Pond in Brandy Hole Copse

With some grant money from the Woodland Trust we were able to buy some pond dipping equipment and had new nets, bug boxes, identification guides and white trays ready for tracking down creatures living in the ponds.

On the day the most popular creatures found included the following: newts, toads, frog spawn, toad spawn, dragonfly larva, mayfly larva, ramshorn snails, water lice, water fleas, flatworms, and even leeches!

The fact that these species were present suggests that the ponds are very healthy for aquatic species and it was noted that a clear indicator species for pollution, the bloodworm, was not found at all – all good news.

Young Visitor

A young visitor to the 2006 Pond Dipping event

If you have a pond at home you may like to do some dipping now to see what creatures are there. For HEALTH AND SAFETY remember that all pond water is dangerous however shallow it is and it will not be safe to taste or drink. If you have a skin cut you should wear a waterproof plaster. Watch small children at all times. Make sure everyone washes their hands afterwards.

You will need a net with fabric that is soft and has a small mesh. Make sure it doesn’t have corners in which creatures can get stuck. Fill a flat bottomed white tray with some pond water. Gently upturn the net to empty your finds into the tray, and dip the net up and down on the surface of the water two or three times to make sure all the little creatures make it into the tray and do not stay stuck to the mesh.

Look at the fast moving creatures first, they speed around the tray because they are looking for somewhere to hide. After a few minutes you will begin to see the slow moving creatures such as the flatworms and leeches. A good introductory field guide can be purchased from the Field Studies Council, called the Freshwater Name Trail.

When you have finished, remember to put the contents of the tray back into the pond gently, so the creatures can avoid getting headaches!

Happy pond dipping.


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