Hawkley: Ponds

 

Hawkley’s Holy Trinity of Ponds.
A report by Jonathan Bills, Countryside Officer, South Downs Joint Committee

As far as ponds go the Parish of Hawkley is one of the most blessed in the South Downs with three good-sized ponds in close proximity to the village.

These ponds are a part of the cultural heritage of the Parish, havens for wildlife and attractive icons too. While I do not know of their exact origins I’d guess that they’re man made, possibly for watering working horses, old quarry pits or to drain water off the hard surfaces hence their locations next to roads.

But ponds are ephemeral – without human intervention they would naturally infill and change to grasses and ultimately woodland under the process called ‘succession’. In September of last year, the South Downs Joint Committee gave Hawkley Parish Council advice and a 350 Environmental Improvement Grant towards the restoration of the Jolly Robin pond.

Upper green pond

Local contractors were used to fell several of the trees on the eastern side of the pond. This work will both slow the infilling of the pond with leaves and also allow more sunshine to enliven the flora, such as the abundant water soldier (Stratiotes aloides), thus oxygenating the pond and supporting a diversity of fauna too. The older trees on the banks were left to provide some shading (we wouldn’t want the pond to dry out) and provide habitat. The dead wood is magnificent for invertebrates, woodpeckers and bats.

Unfortunately, a recent survey of Jolly Robin pond found an unwanted alien invader – the water fern (Azolla filiculoides). This American plant looks rather like a green crusty lichen floating on the surface. The small patch was scooped up and burnt, hopefully nipping this major threat in the bud. 

lower green pond

Alas, it is not alone; the Uplands pond is currently hosting the South American parrots feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum). In accordance with Environment Agency guidelines this plant can be pulled out manually roots and all, so the Parish Council is looking for volunteers to wade into the waters and rescue this pond before it’s too late – these non-native plants are pernicious, rapidly spreading and outcompeting our native flora to create a living mat covering a lifeless pond beneath. They often originate from garden ponds and are easily spread – so please don’t transfer plants or water between any ponds and help keep these wonderful features the best they can be.

Upland Pond

To volunteer to help with this pond work please contact the Chairman of the Parish Council Peter Cregeen on 01730 827026. No date has yet been set for such work but any help will be very welcome on the day.

To find out more about the work of the South Downs Joint Committee including grants schemes and the forthcoming South Downs National Park see: www.southdownsonline.org

For more information on ponds and wildlife see:

www.pondconservation.org.uk

nick davis 2009