Wintringham is creating homes for nature as well as people, with an abundance of natural habitats supporting a wide range of wildlife. To help families explore the underwater world of Bret Pond, Urban&Civic, master developer for Wintringham, teamed up with experts from The Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs and Northants (BCN).
Over 25 families attended a guided pond dipping event to see what creatures they could find living beneath the surface and in the aquatic vegetation. Creatures discovered at the Wintringham pond included freshwater shrimp, water boatman and backswimmers. The water boatman feed on plants, whilst the backswimmers are ferocious predators, and although unlikely to harm people unless handled roughly, will make a meal from a creature such as a tadpole by piercing it with its sharp mouthparts and injecting toxic saliva.
Staff and volunteers from The Wildlife Trust BCN were joined by seven super keen Paxton Pits Youth Rangers, young people who are part of a number of groups that The Wildlife Trust BCN run across the three counties, that are passionate about nature conservation. The event at Wintringham provided an opportunity for them to combine two things they enjoy – sharing their knowledge about local wildlife and pond dipping.
Debbie McKenzie from The Wildlife Trust BCN said: “This activity is still something the Youth Rangers are always keen to do, even after having tried pond dipping many times before, as every pond is different. In fact, before the session began, one of the Rangers was trying to guess what might inhabit this particular pond by noting its plant life and other specific features.” The Youth Rangers also helped the families make plant dumplings, ready to create a bucket pond at home. Two emergent plants were given to each family – yellow iris and water forget-me-not – which were planted into the hessian dumplings, which provide a low nutrient soil to help each plant grow in an aquatic environment. Emergent plants will provide important cover for wildlife, including dragonflies and damselflies emerging from ponds. Each family was also given a strand or two of hornwort, an oxygenating plant.
Christine Littlewood, Communities Development Lead for Wintringham, said: “It was great to see local families engage with the natural world around them. All our landscaping design incorporates features to create and support vital habitats for nature. Working with the Wildlife Trust BCN helps to bring these to life for people and help them learn about the nature around them, but also how they can play their part in creating spaces for nature in their own back gardens.”
Each family moving to Wintringham gets a Welcome Pack with a booklet, developed with the Wildlife Trust BCN, on how to turn your garden into a haven for wildlife.