Freshwater habitats are a vital part of any ecosystem as they act as an important water and food source for native animals and in turn, provide an increase in species diversity.
Scrapes are generally defined as shallow depressions with gently sloping sides that seasonally hold water, all features which can be very attractive to wildlife. During the past century, over 50% of ponds have been lost from the UK countryside, so the creation of this wetland scrape is a brilliant way of enhancing areas of damp grassland for plants and wildlife, as they are able to support an array of aquatic, terrestrial and aerial animals. Shallow ponds provide essential breeding habitats for many invertebrates and all our native amphibians, including the European Protected great crested newt, which are known to reside in the area.
The aquatic and marginal wildflowers that have been planted to encourage butterflies, bees and other invertebrates to the waters edge will transform this wetland habitat into a wonderful display of pinks, yellows and purples in the spring and summer, creating the perfect picnic spot to sit and relax and enjoy the wildlife.
Things to look out for:
Damselflies and dragonflies – can you spot the difference? (dragonflies have larger eyes which touch at the top of the head, their wings are open when resting)
Frog spawn or toad spawn? – frogs lay in large clumps, toads lay in a string of jelly, deeper, sometimes wrapped round vegetation
Whirligig beetles – often seen circling rapidly in search of prey on the surface of the water, their eyes can see above and below the water at the same time, perfect for looking out for underwater prey and aerial predators!
Caddisfly– During the pupal stage, caddisfly larvae build armour around their bodies as camouflage and protection from predators. They will utilise any vegetation, sticks or stones they can find, all stuck together with a silk like substance, secreted from their mouthparts. An excellent food source for larger pond life, this invertebrate is also an indicator species of good water quality.
Grass snakes– the largest of the UKs snakes and avid swimmers. If you’re quiet enough, you might just see one swimming in search of their favourite amphibian prey. Sitting in ambush with their heads just above the water, they wait until their prey is within striking distance, which they will then swallow whole.