The pond at Rusthall is a historic pond, dating back to the 1850s at least, and it may be one of a pair of traditional farm ponds on this site, possibly floored with a hard base such as perhaps puddled clay and stone, and used to provide fresh water to thirsty cattle. The site is now a miniature “nature reserve” with a mixture of trees including some fine oaks, and a good shrub layer. Over the years the pond has accumulated quite a lot of leaf litter and mud, particularly around the edges, but the most obvious problem is excessive growth of the exotic milfoil known as Parrots’ Feather, originally from Southern America, often thrown into local ponds by aquarium owners or garden pond owners when the plant is no longer needed or has grown excessively. There are apparently about 150 infested sites in the UK, mainly in Southern England, and it was first recorded in Lingfield, Surrey in 1960.
The purpose of the exercise on Friday, the 12th January was to carefully enter the pond in waders, explore the depths as a safety check, and try to determine the best way to remove the Parrots Feather from the water without creating further problems. One important factor in “the plan” would be not to completely remove all excessive pond weed growth without maintaining the balance of water plants in the pond, which can sometimes lead to pea-soup algal growth. Another vital factor to be borne in mind is to allow pond animals to escape back into the pond before removing the debris too far from the pond edge, wherever this is both possible and practical.
The pond was safely investigated, the water was actually quite warm, quite a bit of work was done, and the rather wonderful local pub, the Toad Rock Retreat, was also visited!
A few photos shortly.