I am writing in response to several recent letters in the Echo concerning the pond at Queens Park. I hope you will take the time and trouble to give this letter equal coverage.
I would first of all like to correct an error in the article/letters concerning the lottery funding. The pond project was funded by the Living Spaces Fund (LSF) and not the Lottery Heritage Fund (LHF), or Lottery Heritage Initiative (LHI). The public need to be aware of this fact as it is inaccurate information.
I am a committee member of the Queens Park Improvement and Protection Society (QPIPS) with particular interest in conservation and wildlife on the park. I am also involved in a variety of other local conservation projects, ranging from Mammals to Butterflies. A great deal of hard work has gone into the pond redevelopment primarily as a wildlife pond/sanctuary. That was always the original plan. This is as a joint project between both members of QPIPS, the Council staff and the grounds staff at the park who themselves are very keen on good conservation on Queens Park.
Last year a fellow resident (a member of the Pond Conservation Trust) and I conducted a survey of the life in the pond and ignoring the fish and birds, we found one leech and 3 blood worms. That was it ! This year at a recent event by the pond, attended by numerous families, we discovered tadpoles, water daphnia, water louse, water shrimp, 3 species of pond snail – which, by the way, are a good indicator of the improved quality of the pond, numerous species of blood worm and various gnat/midge larvae. Both adults and children alike had a marvellous time and learned a lot. A number of different species of bats use the pond in the late evening/night for socialising and foraging for food. I plan to undertake a survey of small mammals in the park and other areas of Queens Park, to establish what species are present.
Additional hard work by local residents includes working parties to clear straggly gorse – which is both a fire hazard and does not encourage wildlife, litter picking and preservation of the heath land. By doing this we hope to encourage butterflies like the Green Hairstreak. I, at my own personal expense have had approval to erect owl boxes and bat boxes. I also run working parties from the local youth club Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, where young people have contributed positively to their community by undertaking working parties doing litter picking, scrub clearing and wildlife surveys.
Several attempts have been made at planting the edges with various marginal plants. Some –the Yellow Flag Iris are starting to take and in time will provide areas of yellow flowers and resting places for dragonflies and damsel flies. However, the phragmities and willow cuttings seem to have been destroyed by inconsiderate dog owners letting their dogs have free use of the wildlife pond.
Comment was made about the lack of ducks etc. I saw a number of ducks using the pond today with babies and have been advised by parks staff that ducks are using the nearby vegetation to nest. Perhaps with the late seasonal start the reason the ducks are not on the pond during the day is because they are on the nest. Similarly, a moorhen was present (which incidentally had a fight with a squirrel in front of us). I suspect the female was on a nest.
The "punny" islands are providing refuge to Ducks, Moorhen and Gulls alike, as witnessed today. This also gives the birds a place to go when dogs enter the water and a place to fly from if dogs get too near. The plants are flowering there and will continue to grow and expand their coverage.
They are floating to ease maintenance of the pond.
If the dog owners continue to let their pets use the pond without letting our planting strategies have a chance to establish themselves, nothing will grow and the wildlife and public will loose out. Additionally, the dogs continuously stir up the bottom which will not allow submerged water plants to take hold as the sunlight they need is blocked by the disturbed sediment. Also when the young people have been doing the litter picking, one of the most disgusting things they face, is people putting dog faeces in bags and throwing them in bushes or trees. Dog bins are provided – PLEASE use them ! I cannot understand why people go to the trouble of bagging the faeces and then throwing it away. The young people are of course instructed to leave this refuse for Health and Safety reasons.
I have heard comments that the public want to feed the ducks and fish.
Bread is actually the worse thing that you can give ducks and fish. Easily 25% sinks to the bottom and rots causing pollution of the water. The food additives can cause problems as well. Humans are concerned about the problems white bread and additives cause us, but feed it to animals !
I and another committee member had a meeting with various Council staff today to discuss a way forward and to ensure the pond is protected. Nature needs help and time. As a young person was recently overheard saying "wouldn’t it be nice to have a magic powder that can be sprinkled over the plants to make them grow quicker and bigger. Don’t people know that we can’t do that." We will be taking steps with the Council to increase planting but would ask the public to help and support us. Various signs will be erected asking to keep dogs and people out of restoration areas.
Please help us to help you. We will have members of QPIPS in the park by the pond giving information sheets out to dog owners asking for their support and help. Please do not abuse us. We are there to ensure the park flourishes. Should anyone feel strongly about dogs using the pond please take a positive step, join QPIPS and help distribute these leaflets.
It disappoints me therefore, when I read such negative articles, written by people who do not understand what is going on in the background by very keen and able members of the community. Should anyone have concerns or wish to raise matter regarding the park, the QPIPS committee would publicly like to invite them to join the Society where they can contribute in a positive manner to the future of the park by helping in joining our working parties and even seek to be elected to the Committee and help forge links between the Council, residents and wider park users and also develop future plans. We hold a well attended Summer Party – this year during the afternoon of Sunday 25th June. Guided walks to the pond are planned and membership forms will be available.
Contrary to the reported headline, and impression given by the correspondents, the pond is not sinking but starting to blossom and grow.
The abundance of, and diversity of wildlife are clear and unarguable signs of this. With the support and help of the public, this pond and the park can become the jewel in Bournemouth’s crown.
P.O. Box 4998,