As we are still staying safely at home I wanted to keep you up to date with the Conserving Herefordshire Ice Age Ponds project and share some of our discoveries last year.

We have some wonderful volunteers who have really been busy looking at the 1st edition Ordnance Survey maps to see if they can spot ponds for us to visit.  So far they have found nearly 700 potential ponds in our area of interest.  Not all of these will be Ice Age Ponds and some we will already know about, this is a huge number for us to investigate and shows what a significant part of the landscape ponds are.

We will be keen to know how many of these still exist and to visit some of them to carry out surveys.  Our next step will be to start identifying areas we can visit to see if we can see evidence that the ponds still exist and then start to carry out surveys.  Once we have all the ponds on our system and we are able to safely survey again, we will need people to help us visit these areas before we start our surveys.  When we have more information about this, we will be in touch.

For those involved in the project previously, you may have seen some of the wonderful maps that have been produced using LiDAR data.  This is information gathered by firing lasers at the ground from aircraft and can pick out even very subtle changes in the shape of the land and we have used it to help identify areas of hummocky moraine – the areas where kettle hole ponds form – and the ponds themselves.

New work using LiDAR and satellite remote sensing data has been carried out by Dr Fleur Visser at the University of Worcester.  This has brought together the survey work carried out by volunteers during the development phase of the project, ponds mapped by the Ordnance Survey and those that show up on satellite data from different seasons.  Although there is lots of overlap, each source of data highlighted new ponds – many of which we didn’t know about before.  Image 1 (below) is a LiDAR image of the Norton Canon area showing the subtle topography, ponds seen on satellite images(light blue), Ordnance Survey data (mid blue) and volunteer surveys (dark blue).

Image 1

The LiDAR data can also show the individual water catchment areas for each pond (the zig-zag black boundaries around each pond in Image 1).  The changes in topography that separate the ponds is so subtle that it is often not obvious, even when in the field surveying and is usually separate from field boundaries. Understanding where the water in any ponds comes from is really important to help understand water quality and potential sources of pollution and to protect each pond in the future.

Image 2 (below) shows the same area in Norton Canon with many of the pond and field boundaries but not the subtle topography or pond catchments.

Image 2

Without volunteers doing survey work in the field many ponds would be unrecorded, so a big “Thank You” to those who came out last year and helped.  We look forward to being able to continue this work once we are able and seeing what else we will discover.

Finally, following on from the work by our student placement Alex, the Earth Heritage Trust is starting to use more social media.  This will hopefully be a good way to keep a wide audience up to date with our work and perhaps introduce our work to new people too.  You may be aware that the Earth Heritage Trust has a twitter account @BuildingStones and that we like to tweet about interesting things we are doing.  We also have an Instagram account earth_heritage_trust.  For those who haven’t used Instagram before, this is based on photographs with very short captions.  We visit lots of wonderful places and see lots of interesting things but I am a terrible photographer – if anyone has any photographs from our site visits and survey work that they would be happy for me to use to promote our work on Instagram then please do send them to me

If you are a social media user then please do follow us, we will be trying to add new bits and get to grips with this new method of communication.

Beth Andrews, Project Officer – Conserving Herefordshire’s Ice Age Ponds.