Last month Francesca Dunn from the Freshwater Habitats Trust came to Blackwater Valley to teach Andrew, trainee George, Blackwater Valley Countryside Trustee Sue and I about PondNet and a new amphibian survey technique.
PondNet is an exciting new national volunteer survey network run by the Freshwater Habitats Trust and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The first volunteer network of its kind it aims to collect information about trends in pond quality and pond species. The information will then by used by the Trust and other environmental organisations to influence government freshwater policy. The results can also be used at a local level by volunteers and conservation organisations, such as ourselves, to direct work where it is most needed and to achieve the greatest gains for freshwater wildlife.
As part of the PondNet project Francesca and her colleagues are surveying certain ponds for Great Crested Newts using eDNA surveys. This involves completing a form on various pond characteristics, taking water samples from each pond, a visual survey and tests for nitrate and phosphate levels. This survey technique is so new that its accuracy is still being tested. In order to determine accuracy ponds are chosen by a computerised random selection of 1km squares. Inside our 1km square we surveyed Hawley Woodland Pond and Watchmoor Dipping Pond. The samples will then be sent off to be analysed and results will be due back later on in the year.
GOOD NEWS IS we still have more ponds to survey! So if you are interested in coming along then please let me know. My work email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to survey independently or find out more about PondNet and the Freshwater Habitats Trust follow the link: http://freshwaterhabitats.org.uk/?s=pondnet
Due to the random nature of the selection of the ponds and the rarity of Great Crested Newts it is not always likely you will find them. However it is great fun and you are likely to find many other interesting freshwater species.
Assistant Ranger Jenny