Posted on 3rd October 2021

I suppose I have a fascination with water and having dug a pond last year I thought a 'stream' running through the garden would be appealing.

Excavating the stream bed.

The original plan was to have a small stream about 16m long with a drop of 1.8m running at approximately 18,000lt/hr. The form of the bed was dug with 3 main 'falls' and a slower flowing part at the lower end.

Placing the IBC.
A 1,000lt IBC (intermediate bulk container) was buried at the lower end, wrapped in plastic sheet and back-filled with type 1 sub-base.

Sand in place for the second time.
A concrete cover was cast over this to avoid any buoyancy problems. A sheathed cable was run underground from an outbuilding and a 50mm hose was laid in a conduit to the top of the stream.

First stones in place.

The bed was lined with sharp sand and a 0.75mm EPDM liner laid on top and adjusted to ensure no water could leak away. Unfortunately we had 96mm of rain in a few hours which washed all the sand down to the bottom. After rectifying this stones of various sizes were laid to form a bed. Rounded local stone was used as it is mainly a quartzite with attractive red or white colouration. Larger, more rugged stones were used for the margins. In the meantime our dogs had decided there were mice (or similar) under the liner and shredded about 3.5m at the top. As I had to order more liner I decided to buy enough to make a small pond about 3.0m x 4.5m and have the stream flow out of this.

Pond filling for first time.

River cobbles of 80mm to 100mm size were laid over the larger stones and then pebbles of 30mm to 50mm were spread on top. It required about 800kg of each from the local quarry. Pockets were left and filled with a homemade compost for planting later.

Things were left for about 10 days so that the stones could settle in place. 'Touch 'n Foam' Black Expanding Foam was then used to ensure water flowed over the stones and not under. Then where appropriate a sharp sand mortar was used to prevent movement of stones and hold soil back.

The pond was then filled and minor adjustments to the soil at water level made. Medium sized stones were used as the pond edge with several places for animals to escape from the water and beds for planting incorporated.

Stream at Night.

Pond at Night.

The pump, an Evolution Aqua VariPump 30000, was wired up and lowered into the IBC. After switching on several adjustments had to be made where stones caused water to flow in an unexpected manner. Once everything appeared to be OK, various water and marginal plants were introduced. The desired effect will not be apparent until next summer.

Short video of stream just after completion

End of Summer
Posted on 30th September 2021

All in all I think this has been a reasonable summer - it did not warm up until June, July was warm and relatively dry, August was probably the most disappointing month being cool and damp, September was overall the most pleasant month and contained the warmest day.

It has been a good breeding season for all the 'small' birds in this area with the Swallows in particular having 3 broods and the third being mature enough to tackle the migration South. Frequently they have a brood too late when food is becoming short and the chicks will probably not make it to Africa. Weather and thus, food supplies have been good and the last of the Swallows left on October 1st. I lost count of the number of House Sparrow nests and broods, but they too have had an excellent year. Other species such as Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Siskins, Pied Wagtails etc. have flourished too judging by the number of adolescent birds observed.

The first Hesperantha coccinea flower.

The pond (dug 2020) has flourished, as initially insects moved in followed by others such as common frogs. Planting could be undertaken as the margins had a good crop of grass. Unfortunately, Floating Sweet Grass (Glyceria fluitans) arrived and has established itself round the perimeter of the pond.

Wildflowers near the pond.

It appears to be very vigorous and produces a huge network of rhizomes which may present problems in future years. Some Bullrushes (Typha latifoli), Flag Irises (Iris Pseudacorus), Yellow Eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium Californicum), Crimson Lily (Hesperantha Coccinea), Water Mint (Mentha Aquatica), Brooklime (Veronica Beccabunga) and some Water Cress (from Tesco) have been planted and are settling in well, indeed the hesperatha is currently flowering. The Water Cress was simply thrown in to a 'mini pond' where the drains which feed the pond emerge in the hope of catching nutrients and soil particles before they enter the main pond.

The first Water Lily flower looks a bit lonely.
It appears to be working as the Cress is spreading and already flowering.

Over 100 trees have been planted round the pond but only 'standard' 750mm tree shelters were used. I have normally found this to be sufficient protection but here, instead of having a casual graze on the tree crowns as they emerged from the shelters, the deer constantly chew any fresh growth. All the shelters have had to be replaced by 1.5m shelters with 1.8m stakes. the improvement in the growth can be seen after only 3 weeks.

The Pine Martens still visit each night, and as the cooler weather has arrived we are catching several mice in the buildings which gives them a variation in diet. The Badger apparently took a dislike to the cat flap in the barn door and completely wrecked it one night - it has not returned since.

Throughout September there were hundreds of butterflies enjoying the many flowering shrubs, primarily Buddleia. The main species are Peacock, Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell.
Posted on 29th June 2021

Pond after one year
After a few false starts it appears that summer is finally here with many days in June over 20°C. A few nests have already fledged with Pied Wagtails appearing to have had a very successful season.
The Oyster Catchers still visit the pond daily but I think they are attracted by the large numbers of Daphnia in the shallows. It is surprising how much pond life has

Common Blue Damsel
arrived within 12 months of construction - in addition to Daphnia there are Water Boatmen, Whiligig Beetles, Pond Skaters and Damselflies.

Pond Skater

The water temperature is currently 18.8°C at about 300mm depth which is surprising as the soil temperature at the same depth is 13.5°C. A couple of water lily rhizomes were planted at the beginning of June and already there are leaves on the surface and even one flower bud. Some Bulrushes (Typha angustifolia), Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus),Weeping Sedge (Carex pendula), Water Fringe (Nymphoides peltata) and a Chilean Rhubarb(Gunnera manicata) have been planted and along with the 'pond edge' seed mix should provide colour in years to come.

Flowers in the pond edge mix

Some of the sown wild flowers
Almost all of the trees planted in winter have flourished but a couple of Willow have died - normally willows are the toughest. Unfortunately the local deer have discovered how tasty trees are as they emerge from the shelters, so many are a bit stunted.

Birds Nesting
Posted on 12th May 2021
It would seem that after a few false starts, spring is arriving. Many birds can now be seen prospecting for nest sites and a few have already started building.

The swallows have returned to their regular building but still find time to look elsewhere. The blue tit box, although used by tits last year, appears to have been taken over by Tree Sparrows.

Tree Sparrow in Nestbox
They have already cleared out the remains of last year's nest and spend the day checking the box regularly. So many people refer to these birds as 'just a sparrow' or 'little brown job' but they are beautiful birds with fascinating habits. The Pied Wagtails are building a nest in a similar spot to last year so I shall have to rearrange the cameras again!

Pied Wagtail on Nest
The local birds are still eating over a kilogram of sunflower hearts daily and about 0.5 kg of mixed seeds. Flocks of Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Siskin and Yellowhammer descend daily as well as the 'resident' birds like Sparrow, Wagtails, Blackbirds etc.
One Swallow....
Posted on 8th May 2021
The first Swallow arrived yesterday (7th) which I think is later than normal but an indication spring may be on the way. They must have travelled through snow to get here, so I hope there are enough bugs to keep them well fed.
Oyster Catchers
Posted on 22nd April 2021
For the last several days a pair of Oyster Catchers have been visiting the pond and feeding on some recently sown barley which is just starting to show. I have seen many nests built on bare ground allowing the crop to grow and provide cover. The parents are a little conspicuous initially but somehow seem to successfully rear a brood.
Posted on 20th April 2021
Whilst walking round today, I found a couple of large clumps of Frog spawn which had risen to the surface. This is quite surprising (and pleasing)as the pond was only dug last year and is still quite bare of plant life. I did however construct areas at the water's edge for amphibians etc. to hibernate using large stones which were dug up. The weather is currently cold and the water temperature is only 7°C so I hope the eggs hatch.

Frog Spawn

Frog Spawn
Snowy Weather
Posted on 14th February 2021
The weather turned wintry at last with a total of 150mm snow falling from the 8th Feb. onwards. It was very picturesque and proved no problem for travel once the roads

Countryside in Snow
were scraped but the wind started to rise on 11th Feb. rising to Full Gale with a maximum gust of 61.2kts (70.4 mph) on 13th Feb.

Countryside in Snow
The result was severe drifting of the powdery snow with local roads being covered to about 1 metre. It was not until the 15th that the thaw started and roads were cleared.

Extra feeding points were put out for birds who appear to have taken very little hurt, but consumption rose. A large flock of more than 50 Goldfinches visited daily along with a flock of Siskins, Greenfinches, Yellowhammers and the 'usual' Sparrows, Dunnocks, Blackbirds, Chaffinches, Wrens, Robins and others.

Drifting Snow

Drifting Snow

Posted on 1st February 2021
It seems as if winter has finally arrived. There has been a good frost every night for the last 10 days or so and light snow showers.

Pond Completely Frozen Over
The snow is tending to lie above 100m, helped by the fact the soil temperature is only 2°C at 300 mm depth.

Pine Marten in the Barn
The garden birds are currently eating over 1 kg of sunflower hearts per day and 0.5 kg of mixed seeds plus about 0.5 kg peanuts. The Pine Marten still looks in daily for nuts and other treats but particularly seems to enjoy an egg.
Tree Planting
Posted on 19th January 2021
Another 80 trees of assorted varieties arrived at the beginning of December but conditions are either too wet or too frosty to plant them out.
Oak Seedling and Shelter

Some Grey Willow (salix cinerea) and Common Alder (alnus glutinosa), who like having 'wet feet' have been planted round the pond on the edge of the 'bog'.
The remainder consisting of Norway Maple (acer platanoides),Swedish Whitebeam (sorbus intermedia), Hornbeam (carpinus betulus) Oak (quercus robur) and Horse Chestnut (aesculus hippocastanum) will be planted on better drained land soon (hopefully).