Tag Archives: wildlife

Making a mini-pond

I would like to present, da-da da-da Daaaaa!, The Pond Project

(or, indeed as Zeph would like to point out, the watery habitat spot..it is just a washing up bowl so we’re not sure it can qualify as a pond.)

The small people consult the plans…

A certain amount of scavenging and a rain drenched trip to a garden centre today have furnished us with most of the necessary stuff;

Four bricks and some moss-covered, three-year old playsand…

Some donated logs from mum’s extensive pile. A couple of thyme plants, an oregano, a salvia. In the white bag is water mint, a very small bit of yellow flag, a bunch of pondweed, and a small oxygenating grassy plant. (Yes, yes – I have lost the tags. They’re all native – that much I remember from the exhausting 40 minutes poring over them.) Oh and a purple light saber. Vital.

Position your old washing up bowl on top of the bricks. There is talk here of getting one short side of the bowl facing south and the other north (obviously) but since we’re limited in space this just went where I put it.

There was quite a lot of discussion from the supervisor about this and some heated consulting of the plans.

 It was resolved with a “because I said so..”

Right, then we packed sand between the bricks for the bowl to sit on. We used the spirit level to try to keep it as straight as possible. Maybe we should have employed it more than once during the process as it did come out a little crooked. Fits in with everything else though.

You need to bank up a mix of sand and soil at the south end and pile logs with a bit of soil at the other. You need more soil than you might think. There are now a few craters around the rest of the garden. We used some of our bit-ier compost at the logpile end. We also kept back a promising branch to put into the bowl as a dragonfly (ha!) perch.

Then you plant some low aromatic bee friendly  plants on the sandy bank and intersperse them with flat stones for basking flies and bees. We used a golden and a common thyme and the oregano. In the soil at the foot of bank I planted the salvia and I plan to put some more nectar rich stuff in here. 

We scattered a mixed seed packet of butterfly friendly annuals as well.

Now we’re getting to the good bit : cover the bottom of the bowl with a generous layer of pond gravel. Leave some for the top of the pots.

Arrange your plants as you will. They should be at the sunny bank end to leave the logpile end free for all the hedgehogs etc that will be falling over themselves to drink at the pool of loveliness. You should also pile up some cobbles in the corner there for wildlife to get in and out. We don’t have any yet and I’ve reassured everyone that they will be able to scramble out via the basking stick and pot plants in the interim. (Wotan help me if they don’t.)

Ah, the VERY best bit, filling it up. I’ve let this can of water stand for a couple of days. The water should clear and settle over the next couple of days.

I think when it rains it’ll overflow which will make the log side nice and damp for toads etc and should just drain away through the sandy bank. We’ll see since it’s raining pretty heavily right now.

The result;

wetland wildlife habitat, and….

happy Zeph. Phew.

Actually this was a lot of fun and not much financial outlay. I think it looks great and I’m feel pretty confident it’s safe for Ida as well. They were both massively  engaged and involved and Zeph just spent an hour with Steve tonight looking up the kind of flies, bugs and beetles it might attract. I’d heartily  recommend it as a family project.

Zeph found it in his Bird life magazine that he gets as part of a young RSPB membership that was a very welcome birthday present from my Aunt. So all round, a brilliant day – I’d like to end it with a photo of the snail Ida found on the bag of sand;

We caught her later putting him into her dolls house. It took a lot of persuading to convince her he’d be happier in the garden. I love all my BT’s.

A smashing time was had.

It looks as though the teasel is dressed up for best. Zeph’s sharp eyes spotted this on the way to Homebase. We went for some tiles that I have attempted to mortar to the top of my breezeblock wall that runs down the left hand side of my garden. It’s the right height for sitting but not the right width. I though I might try sticking on some slightly wider cheap floor tiles. We found a suitable box on the clearance shelf. I’m not really sure if it’s worked… I’m leaving the mortar as long as possible to go off.

We walked to the store along the wildlife rich footpath again. See, here it looks like a country lane;

but really this is what’s rushing by on the left;

Zeph is about to sneeze here, not overcome with horror...

We saw lots of squirrels, a couple of rabbits, a rat, loads of fluttery butterflies, ladybirds and hoverflies. Zeph and I laugh about how pugnacious the hoverflies are. They hum menacingly right in front of your nose, we like to stop still and “helloooooo” at them in silly voices. They dart away so fast that you don’t see it. First they’re there and then they’re gone.

I tell a friend about the wildlife and she urghs at the rat. Seems so unfair as she ahhed at the squirrels. These are urban, scraggy, wet flattened fur, heroin chic squirrels as well. The rat looked glossy and well-groomed in comparison.

While we were there I acquired a pot of wall flowers from the £1, half dead trolley. We also found some glazed ceramic tiles on the clearance shelf and I splashed out on some shears. Value ones but still about a million times better than my wonky ten-year old car boot finds. We push the heavy pushchair up and down the hills home pleased with ourselves.

The kids spend the afternoon bouncing, swinging and digging a big hole at the end of the garden. I carried out my mortar experiment and then have a happy and productive time smashing all the saved broken china into mosaic bits and sorting by colour into old biscuit tins and margarine tubs. Once again I’m amazed at how many plates don’t really go that far. We have a lot of blue, green and cream and not much in the way of hot colours. I resolve to check out some charity shops.

It’s Spaghetti Bolognese for tea. What with the digging and the slurping the kids really needed their bedtime baths. Cheer abounds among the bubbles. I make DIY plans for tomorrow. Zeph wants to paint eggs for the tree. It all seems look forward toable.

Swooping death on the wing

We walked to the nearest electrical shop for Steve to buy some external disk burning thingy. Ours died ages ago but we’ve agreed we won’t replace our PC ’til it is absolutely, irretrievably dead. It’s managed to limp along another year and we are afloat in downloads that he’s unable to burn. It’s causing him physical pain. Of course what he needs is a ipod so he can just download them to that but his toe-dipping into modern technology is slow.

He’d rather we were all still buying records really. He’s moved all of his up high where I can’t reach them without effort after observing me reading an interesting post about melting old records into bowl shapes. I’ll say this for him, if it affects something of his he’s quite quick to see which way the wind’s blowing. Which does make me wonder why he seems unable to learn about wiping down the sides after washing up. As the wind there is blowing in the direction of a crazed machete attack after a bad day.

Anyway this visit to a retail wonderland involved us walking along a footpath that runs along a really busy flyover. Either side is industrial wasteland, including a wide stretch of railway track. Absurd as it sounds we always see a lot of wildlife as we walk along here. Last time we saw a weasel which was Z’s highlight for a long while. Today he was hoping for something else special.

We see a lot of sparrow hawks around here, usually picking off stupid pigeons. We were hopeful of a sighting today and as we reached the top of an incline were thrilled to hear the distinctive call of a raptor of some sort. We all stopped and shaded our eyes and Zeph sucked in his breath, “it’s a peregrine..” “Nooo” I say but it bloody is. Amazing. We stand watching it hover until it makes a lightning dive into the horizon. We carry on our way, all elated, Z congratulating himself on putting our binoculars on the pushchair.

The day is full of small special pleasures. I am hugely pleased with my cards. Z has covered all bases with a tissuepaper flower one constructed at school and a special werewolf one whipped up at home. He’s also bought me a novel about werewolves. Hmmm. On closer inspection it looks great, by Glen Duncan,  I thank Steve for his obvious hand in it.

I manage to get a photo of Ida’s new cardigan. Not always easy as she’d rather be the one behind the lens, pushing the button. My request to get a close up of the fancy bit on the front resulted her running hysterically all over the house with me pursuing her. I got some lovely shots of her retreating back.

Finally with the help of a bit of chocolate bribery I managed this one;

 

I know it’s still not the clearest picture ever but take my word for it, it’s beautiful. My day has been full of BT’s. My evening will be full of gold stars and glitter glue. I will whine no more.

One death topic today, we have discussed in full all the funeral possibilities in this country. It seems my Dad (grr) has shared his preference for a Viking send off, burning boat style, with Zeph. Now he’s worried how we’ll pull it off. I complicate thing further by mentioning leaving your body for medical science. He’s slightly horrified. “I don’t even like it when you give my clothes that don’t fit to Rueben…”