Where to Start?
In terms of restoring the duck pond after the tidal surge, there seemed little point doing anything until the sea defences (raised bank) had been rebuilt, as sea water would continue to invade the fresh marsh during high, spring tides or when strong on-shore winds occurred. There was, for some time, doubt that the sea wall would ever be reinstated. The responsible body (Environment Agency) claimed they had insufficient funds to undertake the work but, fortunately, central government stepped in (as a result of massive local pressure) and agreed to fund the project. Some £1.2 million later, the job was completed, on budget and on time, towards the end of October 2014. Gladly, by this time, the spring fed nature of the pond allowed the salinity of the water to return to only ‘trace’ levels, perfectly safe for all those creatures needing it.
With the sea wall rebuilt, the plan to restore the Conservation Duck Pond ‘kicked in’. Before any ducks could be introduced back into the enclosure, several essential tasks had to be completed, as follows.
- Repair and/or replace large sections of the perimeter fence.
- Completely replace the ‘fox proof’ electric wires around the entire perimeter of the enclosure.
- Replace all of the equipment needed to control and power the electric fence.
- Comprehensively repair/rebuild the bulk grain store.
- Obtain sufficient food for the waterfowl, as and when they arrive.
- Strim, mow, prune and generally tidy up all of the now overgrown vegetation within and around the enclosure.
- Set up a volunteers based feeding regime for the waterfowl.
- Initiate a fund raising programme to pay for all the work and materials needed.
- Lots and lots of other ‘bits and bobs’!
With all of the above complete, the next task was to arrange for some waterfowl to be acquired. A visit was made to the normal supplier and requirements discussed. Alas, buying ducks and geese is not like buying corn flakes off the supermarket shelf! One can only have what is available at that time. Alas, waterfowl were needed at the time of year when the fewest are available! With some pleading and arm twisting, 12½ pairs of ducks and geese were obtained, with the ½ being a lonely male pochard duck (no female available)! Waterfowl are at their most plentiful after the spring/summer breeding period when new hatchings have matured, around September time. However, some birds were collected and introduced to the pond on Saturday, 29th March, less than a week ahead of the Easter target date which had been set several months before. Phew!
One major hurdle which was overcome more easily than anticipated was the recruitment of sufficient volunteers to ensure that the ducks would be fed every day. It was very fortunate and a testament to the community spirit in these parts that over 20 willing souls were kind enough to put their names forward and get involved. A feeding rota is now in place for April, May and June. It would seem that all those involved are thoroughly enjoying their visits to the pond and are becoming familiar, if not ‘attached’ to their ‘little guests’! For their part, the ducks seem to have become quite accustomed to different people walking around the enclosure and feeding them. Click Here for more information if you are interested in joining the team of volunteers. There are many different ways in which you can help, other than feeding the ducks.