Location: The Parish Council approved a project for restoring and maintaining two ponds at Little Ashley in 2005. One is immediately beside the road about 50 yards from Little Ashley crossroads, while the other is a smaller area of water right on the crossroads itself.
Habitat: The larger pond is something like 50 yards long. The width is 5 yards from the road and the depth is several feet when full of water. This pond is thought to have been built in the second half of the 19th century, and one of its main purposes was to wash the wheels of farm carts and, probably, to swell the wood of the wheels. For this purpose, its bottom was lined with stones and it sloped gradually in from one end, and probably both. It has also been found to contain both plant and animal life. Both from a nature conservation point of view and as a piece of history, this is a pond worth conserving. Much of the mud and vegetation has been cleared out, while leaving boggy areas at places round the margins and leaving some of the willow trees, thus providing a suitable habitat for a variety of wild plants and animals. This was done a second time in 2010, and will need to be done again after some years. The photograph shows part of the pond in 2007.
The second “pond” looks rather like a wide ditch, but it has standing water and some interesting aquatic plants, one of them a rarity. Conservation work consists mainly of clearing invading land plants.
What to look for: The larger pond has some mature Almond Willow and Goat Willow trees in it, and a variety of other plants of water and wet ground can be found in the ponds, including Water Plantain, Water Mint, Fools Water-cress, Branched Bur-reed, Sweet Flag, Narrow-fruited Water-cress, Great Hairy Willow-herb, Wild Angelica and Hard Rush. Newts are known to occur (including the protected Great Crested)
and frogs and toads can be expected. A variety of insects and other small water creatures should also be observable, and dragonflies and damselflies may well visit.
Horse leeches have been seen nearby. Mallards visit and a moorhen has nested and raised a brood.
John Treble 01225 866094 firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteers to help with conservation work would be welcomed enthusiastically.