Preparing some of the hundreds of new plants.

Preparing some of the hundreds of new plants.

Today Froglife joined us on our wildlife ponds to continue to improve the area for wildlife. A few months since our big cleanup, the ponds are looking much better and teeming with wildlife. However, some of the more aggressive plants have begun to dominate the area and we can make the ponds even better for wildlife by encouraging greater diversity in our plantlife.

To help us do this, Vanessa Barber and Alex Draper from Froglife came down to help us plant up the ponds with a greater variety of native species. Armed with over 300 individual plants of many different species, we worked to add a range of textures and habitats to the ponds. Our aim is to create lots of different areas to the ponds, including open water spaces as well as planted areas along the edges (with great growth for emerging invertebrates like damselflies and dragonflies), as well as vegetation beneath the water to provide food, oxygen and shelter for aquatic life. Last but not least we can add floating plants, which wildlife can use as refuges and an anchor for their eggs.

We spotted lots of wildlife during the planting including frogs, newts, spiders, bumblebees, damselflies and beetles of all sorts. It’s great to see wildlife making our ponds home and we hope the new planting and other new wildlife initiatives will encourage even more wild creatures to take up residence.


Our intrepid group listen to chiffchaffs and robins singing.

Our intrepid group listen to chiffchaffs and robins singing.

An early start was required!

An early start was required!

This morning, we celebrated International Dawn Chorus Day with a dawn chorus walk led by Tower Hamlets Biodiversity Officer and keen birdwatcher John Archer. To hear the best of the birdsong, we had to get an early start, setting off just after first light at 5am. As we arrived, the birds were already singing, but the only mammals that were up and about were the foxes.

The sunrise was stunning and the birds were out singing in force across the farm, announcing their presence and staking out their territories. A fairly still morning, their song carried without interference from wind and we were lucky to see and hear over twenty species. You can hear a clip of the morning chorus below:

First light across the farm.

First light across the farm.

Dawn on the big field.

Dawn on the big field.

As the sun rose, we heard songbirds singing at full strength and our livestock slowly waking up. As they did, our chickens and pheasants joined in the chorus, as did George the donkey, much to the amusement of all!

Robins were heard singing across the farm.

Robins were heard singing across the farm.

Robins were one of the most common species found singing around the farm, with their distinctive and melodious song. You can hear one singing in the clip below:

A Great Tit rests on a fence.

A Great Tit rests on a fence.

Great tits were also seen and heard across the farm, switching from singing to foraging once the sun had risen. You can clearly hear the “tea-cher” cry in the clip below.

You can find a full list of the species we saw and heard below, as well as more photos from our morning! To find out more about the dawn chorus, visit the International Dawn Chorus Day Website. You can also hear clips of bird song at the website of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Species List – Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Blackbird Greenfinch Mute Swan
Blackcap Herring Gull Ring-necked Parakeet
Blue Tit House Sparrow Robin
Carrion Crow Lesser Black-backed Gull Song Thrush
Chiffchaff Magpie Wood Pigeon
Dunnock Mallard Wren
European Starling Mistle Thrush
Great Tit Monk Parakeet

mudchute-easter14-3262

Today we officially launched our new and improved ponds! The afternoon was a celebration of pond life with activities including pond dipping, wildlife-themed arts and crafts and opportunities to discover some the wild residents of Mudchute’s ponds with our visitors.

mudchute-easter14-3260Over the winter, we worked with Tower Hamlets and Froglife to restore and improve our ponds (see details here) and we’ve already noticed common frogs making the new and improved ponds a breeding site. Today’s pond dipping activities gave us a chance to look below the surface.

Using the new viewing platform as a base, pond dippers of all ages and experience levels took part in exploring pond life. We got a fantastic glimpse at many of our wild aquatic residents, which included tadpoles, water boatmen, young newts, caddisfly and damselfly larvae as well as lots of ramshorn snails and hoglice (an aquatic cousin of the familiar woodlouse).

We hope all our visitors enjoyed the day as much as we did and we look forward to watching our new ponds and their wild residents grow and mature! You can find more photos of the day’s activities below. Thank yo again to all who took part!