This spring we officially opened our brand new pond dipping area at RSPB Scotland Loch Lomond. We’re delighted with the final result, but here’s how it all came together over the winter:
RSPB Scotland Loch Lomond has loads of pools and streams and little areas of water, which is one of the reasons why it’s so good for wildlife. One of my favourites is called the Damselfly Pond, which is along the Airey Woodland Trail. It’s the perfect place to sit and listen to the interesting sounds coming from the nearby Aber Bog, including the continuous reeling call of the grasshopper warbler and the scratchy song of the sedge warbler. Around the pond the scrub always seems busy with birds flitting in and out of the bushes, and there’s quite often a blackcap and willow warbler singing down there too. If you take a wander ‘off-road’ you will quite often come across frogs and toads and in June, common/heath spotted orchids start to appear all over this grassy area, so it’s a brilliant spot.
For a long time, we’ve been investigating the possibility of putting in a pond dipping area here, allowing people to get even closer to all the creatures hidden away under the water. In 2017, we were awarded funding from the ScottishPower Foundation, and were finally able to put our plans into action!
This winter, we began the work with WWT Consulting to design and then build a platform and shelter. We wanted the shelter to be somewhere to sit and enjoy the views over the meadow, which comes alive with butterflies and other insects in spring and summer.
The work on the pond began in March and the contractors battled with the elements during the ‘beast from the east’ for the work to be completed in good time.
Photo by David Palmar (photoscot.co.uk)
As part of the work, some of the vegetation from the pond was cleared out. The best action for wildlife is to thin out some of the plants, but to leave two thirds of it as it is. This should encourage a wide variety of water creatures to the pond.
Photos by David Palmar (photoscot.co.uk)
The final design features pond wildlife ID charts, a wooden carved damselfly, a carved lifecycle of a frog and a rain garden. The rain garden is designed to allow water to run off the roof, down a chain and out onto a water garden where the soil and plants clean and filter the rain water before it goes back into the pond.
The completed structure sits at the edge of the pond with a platform leading over the water. You only need to sit there for a couple of minutes before you encounter some of the water wildlife including the delicate damselflies that the pond is named after.
For the official opening of the pond dipping area, ScottishPower Foundation and the Animal Protectors from Gartocharn Primary joined us to try out the new activity and help us to cut the ribbon! We found whirligig beetles, pond skaters, caddisfly larva and lots of tadpoles (they were the favourites).
(Photo by Lorna Beattie)
You can come along to pond dip with us at weekends and every day during the school holidays (£2 for RSPB members, £3 for non-members).