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Tidcombe Dew Pond

This historic dew pond was reinstated with funding by the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Farming in a Protected Landscape Programme.

A chance conversation with our FIPL officer opened up the possibilty for external funding to restore a number of farm dew ponds. With no water source on the farm bar troughs fed by the village reservoir, this seemed like an ideal opportunity to boost our biodiversity and provide new watering holes for our local wildlife. Within days a scheduled tour with Rob West from FIPL had been organised and two dry dew ponds identified for FIPL funding.

Step two required some deep research into best choice of liner whilst presenting a scheme with manageable costs. As it happened, the increasingly popular and expensive geo synthetic clay liner ( essentially a quilt with bentonite stitched in between and subsequent soil containment system on top offering a more natural pond finish) was shown to be a no go option. The experts informed us that due to our chalk sub base, the calcium could leach and exchange with the sodium bentonite and reduce its efficiency. We opted for a 1.1mm EPDM (rubber liner) with fabric underlay.

The ponds were reexcavated including an 60x60x60 cm ‘anchor trench’ running the full circumference of each pond. A note to any would-be pond builders here: do use a laser level! As much as your digger operator will claim to have a great eye for level, the laser does not lie and will save you time building up the banks later on!

Within a week of the application being submitted, we had the green light to restore both a 20x20m and 10x10m dew pond. Time for the 13 tonne digger. ….

This was also the moment when forward planning for a pond jetty was made, as stone slabs were laid for the jetty feet, that would sit on the sub base before the liner arrived.

With the help of the farm telehandler, the rolls of pond liner were lifted into place, unrolled and the excess tucked neatly into the anchor trench. With the ponds filled, some thought is needed how to finish the pond and hide the liner creating a natural looking side to the banks. We were fortunate enough to know of a large lawn being torn up. With a flat bed trailer and a Manitou, we carved off the turf, lifted it onto pallets and were able to distribute the cut turf around the pond, gently draping the grass into water.

The net result has been extraordinary. Within days the pod was alive with toad and frog spawn, newts by the dozen and as summer approached the teams of dragonflies (Broad-bodied chasers, Emperors, Damselflys) provided an amazing aerial display.

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