Sunday, 20 July 2014

Dacres Wood Pond

I was working yesterday at Dacres Wood Nature Reserve's 'Open Day'. The open day was part of the Sydenham Arts Festival Artists Trail, and was the perfect opportunity for Froglife's London Dragon Finder Project to hold a Dragon Day to celebrate the pond restoration work undertaken here. The nature reserve is a hidden gem within the London Borough of Lewisham and sits beside the railway line between Forest Hill and Sydenham.

Its main feature is a large pond, which was restored last winter with funds raised by the Friends Of Dacres Wood and matched by Froglife we also provided expertise and advice for the restoration work. As well as clearing the pond of debris and excess vegetation, a pond-dipping platform was installed and a wooden footbridge refurbished. The dipping platform is regularly used by local schools and the buildings have become a field centre.

We had a fantastic day and with excellent help from Pria a Froglife volunteer we ran three pond-dipping sessions from the new platform, while back at the field centre local artists displayed some of their fantastic artwork. Outside beneath our gazebo we had Amphibian & reptile information, as well as our 'Paint A Frog' activity which proved popular with adults as well as children.

After the pond dipping we all had a go at raft racing. First you scavenged a few pieces from around the reserve, pieces of bark, fallen leaves, which made great sails, bird feathers, twigs etc. Then, create your masterpiece that will sail further than anyone else, or stay afloat the longest, mine sank immediately, no surprise there! They were launched from the pond dipping platform with string attached so they could be hauled back in.

The pond is looking superb and both Frogs & Toads obviously love it, as there were lots of Frog and Toadlets around the site. The pond has a good population of Smooth Newts too. Other wildlife noted today were butterflies; Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Speckled Wood and a pristine Red Admiral. Pond-dipping produced a fantastic array of species, with both Lesser & Greater Waterboatmen, Pond Skaters, Beetle Larvae, Diving beetles, Whirligig Beetles and many others.


A really successful day, I met some wonderful local people, who are so passionate and enthusiastic about their hidden gem of a nature reserve, and rightly so. While we never had a huge turnout of visitors, those that did come along had a quality experience and all went away happy, clutching their brightly coloured plaster cast frog! If you have not visited this wonderful reserve, I can fully recommend that you do. The reserve is open on the last Saturday of each month April - October.