It has been a long, wet winter. Probably the wettest that any of us can remember and all our fields are waterlogged, even though we have not suffered the severe flooding that many areas have endured. Some parts of the farm have even got standing water in the lowest parts of the field, so it was no surprise this week to see a pair of mallard ducks circling overhead and then landing in one of our grass fields.
What were they doing? I suspect that they were doing a quick reconnaissance trip to assess the new pond’s suitability for the year ahead and for a potential nesting site at its perimeter.
As it happens their thinking chimes with ours because we have been giving thought to ponds recently.
In the past we had several ponds on each farm. They were used by ducks and geese (and sometimes pigs wallowing in the muddy shallows!). Unfortunately most of the ponds were drained in the 1940s and 1950s. This was often to the detriment of the environment and ecology of the farm but the need to produce extra food was paramount in wartime and subsequently.
Now we are looking again at creating ponds on the farms to enhance field drainage and encourage wildlife by reinstating a more varied landscape. We plan to work on our first ponds this summer. In this way the mallards can have a proper pond, not a temporary one that is subject to the vagaries of the weather, and we can recreate a vibrant environment which insects, amphibians and birds can enjoy.