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Wildlife reports 2020
thanks to Gill Massey

February
It is that time of year again, or, more accurately, that time of every other year. Time for clearing out the wildlife pond in the orchard. It is the major ambition of every pond or small area of water to work steadily at turning itself into dry land. Waterside vegetation edges inwards, small, innocuous clumps of water plants bulk up, are invaded by grass and other unwelcome plant visitors, and turn into large islands which then link up with each other. Unless this habit is checked a pond will turn itself into a bog and then dry land in a surprisingly short space of time.
 The orchard was lucky to enlist the help of Nick Gray from Dorset Wildlife Trust, who is over 6ft tall and the possessor of a good serviceable pair of waders, both excellent qualifications for mucking about in a pond of uncertain depth. There is a fairly narrow window of opportunity for doing this work. Do it too early in the winter and you risk exposing disturbed wildlife to the worst of winter weather. Leave it too late and you risk upsetting frogs and newts with romance on their minds. Nick's heroic efforts in hacking up recalcitrant and solid lumps of vegetation with a saw meant that we had a lot more clear water. We examined the surplus clumps for wildlife, returning a few surprised frogs and newts to shelter by and in the pond, and left the unwanted vegetation next to the water for a few days so any other critters could crawl out. We may not be enjoying all this wet weather but it will help the pond and its inhabitants settle down to await better weather and a mate.
 Spring has been tapping her foot impatiently for a while now, waiting for her turn on the stage of the year, and teasing us with birdsong and glimpses of primroses, but winter is not quite yet ready to relinquish her hold. Remember we had snow on 1st March last year! So leave some of
those dead stems and seedheads in your garden as cover for all your own wildlife, while we all wait and hope for warmer drier weather.

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