Frog ghost

Frog ghost before excavation - this is a younger ghost pond, which is still quite evident in the landscape.  In fact, from a distance you could be fooled into thinking that it is still a pond, but on closer inspection you would find there is no water, and the ground is quite solid and not at all boggy.  There are some wet land associated plants (including reed canary grass), but mostly the ghost has been colonised by stinging nettles.
October 2013 – Frog ghost before excavation.  This is a younger ghost pond, which is still quite evident in the landscape.  In fact, from a distance you could be fooled into thinking that it is still a pond, but on closer inspection you would find there is no water, and the ground is quite solid and not at all boggy.  There are some wetland associated plants (including reed canary grass), but mostly the ghost has been colonised by stinging nettles.  This pond was named “Frog ghost” because of the great number of common frogs found in the neighbouring hedgerows, and hopping into the pond even while it was being excavated.
Digging the test pit - Frog ghost didn't have as clear a sediment layer as Original ghost or Crescent ghost; the sediment was not as dark, and there were no water snail r pea mussel shells.  However the very fine silty texture to the lower sediment gave it away as being pond sediment.
October 2013 – Digging the test pit.  Frog ghost didn’t have as clear a sediment layer as Original ghost or Crescent ghost; the sediment was not as dark, and there were no water snail or pea mussel shells. However, the very fine silty texture to the lower sediment gave it away as being pond sediment.
Taking sediment samples from Frog ghost.
October 2013 – Taking sediment samples from Frog ghost.
Frog ghost completed.  Being the smallest pond to have been resurrected, Frog pond was completed in a day.
October 2013 – Frog ghost completed. Being the smallest pond to have been resurrected, Frog pond was dug in a day.
Five weeks on - surveying Frog ghost for water beetles and bugs.  6 species of water beetle have colonised so far, and there are still quite a few frogs hopping around.
November 2013 (five weeks on) – surveying Frog ghost for water beetles and bugs. 6 species of water beetle have colonised so far, and there are still quite a few frogs hopping around.
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January 2014 – Frog ghost has been filling slower than our other five ponds, with the water level only slightly above that in week 5.  However, the water is clean and clear, and Frog ghost is the first of the ghost ponds to have aquatic plants growing.
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January 2014 – water crowfoot (Ranunculus aquatilis), growing in Frog ghost.  This is the first species to have appeared in a ghost pond – whether it has come from the buried seed bank, or via dispersal is not yet certain, but should become clearer with greenhouse germinations and development of the mini-pond microcosms.
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March 2014 – Frog ghost looks much the same as it did back in January – the water level has not changed, but remains clear and fairly free of vegetation or algae.  There is a small land drain (which we thought we had removed), which seems to be regulating the water level in Frog ghost, keeping it at a constant low.
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May 2014 – the water level of Frog ghost has remained at the height of the land drain, so it appears we did not do a good enough job of bashing this out.  With the arrival of spring, the Ranunculus aquatilis has spread well, but there has also been a rather smelly bloom of thick filamentous algae.  The water clarity has been reduced, perhaps due to a nutrient influx event.
frog-May-persicaria
May 2014 – Despite the thick covering of filamentous algae, a second plant species, Persicaria amphibia (amphibious bistort), has managed to germinate in Frog ghost.  The Ranunculus aquatilis is in flower and seems to be doing well, and 4 species of dragonfly were seen using the pond.
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June 2014 – Although the water level remains low, Frog ghost is turning into rather a nice little pond.  The water has begun to clear since last month, and the filamentous algae has all but disappeared (thankfully!).  The Ranunculus has almost finished flowering, but has increased it’s coverage across the pond, and a new plant species (Sparganium emersum – bur-reed), has appeared.  The dragonflies are still busy laying eggs, including both broad bodied chases and four-spot chasers.  The bare, muddy margins are beginning to fill in with vegetation – a mixture of water associated (the toad rush Juncus bufonius), and more terrestrial species (for example the poppies seen in the right of the photo).

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July 2014 –  Although it has become very shallow with the recent hot weather, Frog ghost is still functioning as a pond.  Some small patches of filamentous algae have made a return, although in nothing like the densities seen in May.  Despite it’s small size, frog ghost now supports 8 species of fully aquatic plant, including Potamogeton natans, Sparganium emersum, and two species of Chara.

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August 2014 – Frog ghost is still going strong (phew!), and has managed to cling on through the long dry summer.  The pond might be small, but the water is beautifully clear, aquatic plants are doing well, and the site is absolutely heaving with dragonfly larvae.

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August 2014 –  Standing inside the crater around Frog ghost, you enter a wonderfully sheltered and calm world.  Perhaps this is why the site has proven to be so successful with dragonflies and damselflies.  Bank and emergent vegetation is developing well.

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August 2014 –  A scarce emerald damselfly (Lestes dryas), visiting Frog ghost.  In the UK this species is rare, and restricted to areas of East Anglia.  It is listed as vulnerable in the British Red Data Book, so an exciting find!  ID kindly provided by Steve Brooks.

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September 2014 –  Small is beautiful.  Despite it’s small size, and  the fact that only 7% of the expected rainfall for September arrived this year, Frog ghost has made it through it’s first year without drying up.  The pond now supports 22 species of water-associated plant, including 12 true aquatic species.  As this pond is much smaller than the others, it is likely to require earlier management to maintain some patches of open water.

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September 2014 –  Looking down through the water in Frog ghost.  Four new aquatic plant species have appeared in the last 6 weeks (since August 2014 survey).

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September 2014 –  A frog’s eye view of Frog ghost.  Plenty of emergent vegetation makes this a fantastic pond for dragonflies and damselflies, while underwater the dense beds of chara provide a great habitat for other invertebrates.

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dec-frog

November 2014 –  Unlike the other ponds, Frog ghost is still supporting quite high aquatic plant cover.  This is likely due to the ponds more sheltered location, being a shallow site in quite a deep pit!  Viewed across the field, the 7m margin around Frog ghost is the only indication that there is a pond hidden in there.

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June 2015 – Now in it’s second year, frog ghost supports 21 aquatic and water associated plant species, and similar to the other five study ponds, an abundance of dragonflies, damselflies, water beetles, and other aquatic invertebrates.

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