Field Event Reports

Saturday 20th August 2016: Pond Dipping at Orchard Lake

Leader: Jeremy Biggs,
Director, Freshwater Habitats Trust

Children really enjoy pond dipping

A group of 12 people (8 adults, 4 children) met at the top of Barton Lane, Abingdon, where we were met by our guide and expert, Jeremy Biggs. Another member arrived later. Initially there was some drizzle in the air, but this soon cleared for the rest of the visit. Loaded up with nets, trays, books and other materials, the group then walked the 15 minutes or so up the Sustrans path, turning south to Orchard Lake. This former gravel pit is ideal dipping as at its western end it is shallow, but bordered by a healthy edge of aquatic vegetation, most of which only just emerges from the water surface. Dipping started, with children dipping like fury. It was soon apparent that a profusion of life was being found, with trays rapidly filling with swirls of bugs and beetles. Jeremy was then called upon to identify the unusual among the bugs and various detritus. Notable finds were a Duck Leech, Water Scorpion, Water Stick-insect, Great diving Beetle, Emperor Dragonfly nymph and Smooth newt efts. Quite amazingly, a 12cm Pike was captured, which once settled in a tray seemed quite happy to selectively consume some of the other life there.

After an hour or so the attention of the children was diverted to picking blackberries and while they had no worries about mud and wet feet when dipping, a number discovered that care had to be taken avoiding the thorny defences of the blackberry bushes. The family groups slowly dispersed and the other attendees trudged back to the cars with the equipment. Thanks were conveyed to Jeremy for his time, expertise and equipment.

Overall, while a low turn out, there was great satisfaction seeing the delight on the children's faces as they discovered the profusion of life that is normally invisible – I even had a report that one of the children wanted to come back the following week. We have also obtained a valuable list of species discovered for the local records.

Graham Bateman

Species identified:
Great Diving Beetle (Dytiscus marginalis), Screech Beetle (Hygrobia tarda), Water Hog-louse (Asellus aquaticus), Freshwater Shrimp (Gammarus pulex?), Pond Olive (Cloeon dipterum), Lesser Water-boatman (Corixia punctata), Saucer Bug (Ilyocoris cimicoides), Water Scorpion (Nepa cinerea), Water Stick-insect (Ranatra linearis), Duck Leach (Theromyzon tessulatum), Wandering Pond Snail (Lymnaea peregra), Great Pond Snail (Lymnaea stagnalis), Ramshorn Snail (Planorbis planorbis), Emperor Dragonfly nymph (Anax imperator), Blue Damselfly nymph (Enallagma cyathigerium), Red-eyed Damselfly nymph (Erythromma najas), Pike (Esox lucius), Nine-spined Stickleback (Pungitius pungitius), Smooth Newt eft (Triturus vulgaris), Red water mite? (Hydrachnidae), Stonewort (Chara sp).
David Borrowdale + daughter, Alan & Elizabeth Drury + son & daughter-in-law + 3 grandchildren, Graham Bateman, Hugh Summers, David Guyoncourt, Ian Smith.

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