This is my second year of volunteering over the summer with the Vale Countryside Volunteers, a local group which carries out conservation tasks weekly in the Aylesbury Vale. This year I have been volunteering since I finished university and will volunteer every week until I get a job or more targeted volunteer work. I am learning lots of new skills each week through a variety of tasks but this weeks task was the most intense.
We had been asked to clear out a pond in the local village of Brill, the pond had become overgrown with an unknown species of water crowfoot which had been planted four years ago which incidentally seems to be the last time I pond was probably cleared. I put on some waders and got into the pond which turned out to be chest height in places. It quickly struck me that this task was not going to be easy as the pond was heavily silted and the vegetation was incredibly dense, so much so that you couldn’t even tell where the pond was, as you can see below.
4 hours or so of work later and the pond was as clear of the crowfoot as we could make it, although undoubtedly it will return. Doesn’t the pond look so much better now?!
The main issue I had was with my waders, just before lunch I could feel some water inside them, which isn’t the best feeling and was very cold indeed! I don’t know if the waders leaked or if I just got over excited and went in too deep but when I got out for lunch I could hardly walk due to the weight of water inside the waders. I had no spare clothes as didn’t realise I would be destined to end up in a pond and would have quickly frozen if I had stayed in the water saturated clothes. Luckily one of the couples that lives in the manor house which owns the pond kindly let me come into her house dripping everywhere and shower to get the algae off me. I was also provided with some old clothes I could wear to go home in which was a godsend. This just shows how prepared you have to be when doing conservation work and is a lesson that I will remember for next time. I could go into the grizzly details but that is best left to the imagination I think, lets just say I looked a state when I got home and missed having underwear to wear..
Overall I think I will look back at this task as one of my highlights as it was really enjoyable to see the progress the three of us in the pond could make in a couple of hours. After lunch we cleared some trees and got rid of some Japanese knotweed which is a highly invasive species and by law will have to be burnt.
NOTE: The plant has now been identified as floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides), a rather invasive species so will need better control in the future! Thanks to Valerie Selby for the identification.
Thanks for reading,