We have had a very busy summer digging ponds, surveying sites and enjoying working with our volunteers again.

Goodbye to our Ice Age Ponds Trainee Assistants

After working in all weathers, and trying everything we asked of them, our fantastic Ice Age Pond Trainees, Kath and Rose have moved on.  Kath has returned to university after helping us during her “placement year” and Rose is off to Namibia working as a field assistant.  We want to say a huge “Thank you” to them both.  They helped hugely with events, surveying and  being generally helpful, friendly and funny throughout their time with us.  We will miss them both and wish them all the best for their future plans.

(Right to left) Kath, Sarah and Rose at Moccas Park during our BBC filming session

Medicinal Leech Survey

We are pleased to be working with the Freshwater Habitats Trust on developing a new method for detecting Medicinal Leech in ponds.  Medicinal Leech can reach up to 20cm in length and is the only native species that can feed on mammals.  Its initial decline was linked to over collection for medicinal bloodletting but modern changes to its habitat and current distribution is not well understood.  Many Ice Age Ponds in Herefordshire provide a suitable habitat with fluctuating water levels. At one of the few sites in Herefordshire with historic records of Medicinal Leech, our ecologists and volunteers undertook a full day hunt to see if they could find them again.

This involved disturbing the shallow water (wearing wellies to avoid getting bitten) at the edge of the pond to try and attract the leeches, before catching any that come to investigate. Unfortunately, our brave volunteers didn’t find any leeches, but everyone had a good time and we will keep a look out for them at our other sites.

Geophysics Surveys

Our MSc student, Olivia, and her supervisors Dr Ian Simpson and Dr Richard Waller came down to Herefordshire for 3 days of geophysics surveys across some Ice Age Ponds.

Olivia and supervisors, using the Ground Penetrating Radar at Sturts Nature Reserve

The surveys, using ground penetrating radar and resistivity, aim to see if there are differences to the structure of the ground underneath different Ice Age Ponds.  This involved laying long cables across the features, and walking or pushing a device over the ground.  The surveys went well (apart from Beth getting very wet feet due to losing wellies in very deep mud!).

It is hoped that this will help us better understand how these features formed and how large they are.  We will have to wait for the full results of the survey but the initial results seem to show that there are features within the soil structure – so they aren’t just wet parts within the fields, there is more to it.

Once we know whether this technique works, we are planning on running another follow-up day which will be open to volunteers to come along and see the surveying in action (and perhaps have a go with the kit as well).  If you are interested in joining us for this session then please do get in touch – e.andrews@worc.ac.uk.

Ice Age Ponds App

We are delighted to announce that our Ice Age Ponds app is now available to download free from the App Store or Google Play.  Just search IceAgePonds.  With the app you can visit some of the ice age ponds, take a cycle or car tour around Ice Age Herefordshire or even take a selfie with a mammoth.  We would love to know what you think and see your photos, so please do share on social media #iceageponds #mammothselfie.

It looks like we will soon be able to meet and greet our volunteers again and say a massive thank you (possibly with cake) to everyone who has continued to support our project both with time and information and lots of patience.  Have a wonderful summer and we look forward to catching up with you soon.

Find out more:

To keep up to date with our project, please follow us on instagram (@earth_heritage_trust @herefordshirewildlifetrust ) twitter (@buildingstones @HerefordshireWT) or visit our project blog: https://www.herefordshirewt.org/iceageponds/newsletters-blogs.