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Operation Habitat Salvation

July 19, 2011

Today we went St Aldhelm’s Academy, a school that reached out to us help with a wildlife (or lack of) problem. The task was to create a wildlife pond within the central court yard of the school. Although there was a pond already there, it was like a biological desert, with only one little fish and a few lilies (very expensive ones, we were informed by the finance manager of the school). Before we could even start though, we realised that Mat was looking peaky, he needed food! Luckily with his boyish charm, he soon managed to get two bacon butties from the dinner ladies. Phew, we were then able to start.

Having looked at the project, we realised that this was not going to be a one day task, so decided that the first thing that needed sorting out was changing the uniform depth of the water. To create shelves, we placed slabs of rocks near the edges of the pond. This not only created arrange of water depth, but also provided a causeway for creatures to enter and leave the pond. This required some people to be in the water, so a few of us clambered in. Almost immediately Frankie managed to flood his wellies and soak his backside.

Frankie decides to see just how deep the pond is!

Once this was done, the next stage of the project was to place in the silt some donated plants, in order to create more oxygen for the invertebrates in the water. Southern Aquatics had been really generous, not only giving us expensive plants, but also gravel, planters and pond plant compost. With all these features, the pond soon looked much more wildlife friendly. Lunch was called and we were invited into the staff room, for free tea and toast. What a feast, Frankie had 13 slices own his own.

T and toast

We even washed up, much to the amazement of the teachers. Next we cleared the courtyard of all the chopped down leylandii trees, moving them to the woodland adjacent to the school (which they owned, so we weren’t fly tipping!). This was a hard job because the branches were really itchy and got up our noses and scratched our arms. The trunk of the tree’s were also utilised, creating log piles around the pond for insects. By the end of the day, we took stock of what we had done. Before we started the project the pond was virtually dead to all wildlife apart from one lonely fish, now it is a haven for whatever stumbles across it. Especially as we have added wood piles around the edge and of course the sacred wooden heads.

job done

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