Buckingham Railway Walk
Conservation Group



Pond



The pond was created in the trackbed to the south of the Station and platform.  After the rails and sleepers were removed, a dam was created to allow a natural spring to fill the depression. Even while the the railway was operating, workers were constantly maintaining drainage channels in the area to  prevent flooding, so it was an ideal spot for the creation of a wetland habitat.

 


 

The pond is a great feature for the Railway Walk not only for passers-bye to stand and gaze at, but above all as an active habitat for many forms of wildlife.

This pond is fed by a spring some distance away, and supplemented in wet weather by rainfall.  Water overflows passing further along the old trackbed to finally reach drainage areas in Station Road. The level of the water in the pond fluctuates, in winter it freezes over, and during dry spells it can drop considerably.

Water quality is often an issue. The spring water can become cloudy in appearance and quite smelly as it wends its way from its source, and in some places takes on an orange colouration. The orange hue has been attributed to the remains of the trackbed perhaps being left under the silt, however reminiscing railway workers tell us that the water was always this colour due to an iron based seam in the bed rock. Tests carried out by the environment agency have proved inconclusive. The water in the pond itself is quite clear in Springtime, but often becomes milky in hot weather and has been known to turn wine red on occasion.

 

 

 

However the wildlife in and around the pond flourishes, and over the years we have made efforts to ensure it continues to be a viable habitat. Each year we include tasks in our programme which have included cutting back overhanging branches to allow more light to reach the water, and clearing out excessive weed growth, rotting leaves, dead branches and litter. Also, with the permission of Buckingham Town Council, we have transplanted aquatic plants from Bourton Park into the fringes of the pond, these include indigenous varieties of water mint, rushes and flag iris.

 







 

From early February frogs make their way to the somewhat murky, muddy areas leading to the pond, Spring has arrived!  Shortly after, in March and April toads and smooth newts are very much in abundance in the pond. Emerging tadpoles, pond skaters, whirligigs, water beetles and other aquatic creatures entertain onlookers.

 Mallard ducks occasionally drop by and stay for a while.




Grey wagtails are often seen along the watercourse feeding in the silt and snatching up hovering insect life. Blackbirds are seen all year round bathing in the shallows. A Kingfisher has made appearances in the mid to late summer pearched on branches overlooking the pond. Probably watching out for small aquatic invertebrtes and amphibians, which are in abundance, to suppliment his diet.
On warm evenings bats fly over the surface of the pond using their echolocation techniques to hunt down flying insects that emerge from in and around the water.
In July we begin to see the emergence of damsel and dragonflies, their exuviae can be seen on leaves, twigs and fencing surrounding the pond. They dart back and forth displaying flashes of vivid iridescent colour.

 

The Railway walk has been the venue for wildlife events for the last 5 or 6 years.  The following pictures are from a pondlife and bat evening held on Monday 18th April 2011.
Paul Holton,  Ecologist and Biodiversity Officer working for Aylesbury Vale District Council, with Rhona McLaughlin from the North Bucks Bat Group, came along to share their knowledge with us. It was a truly enjoyable evening, the pond revealed a host of usually unseen creatures and bats provided ariel displays overhead.
Paul, clothed in waders, ventured into the pond and scooped out male and female smooth newts, a frog, water beetle, water scorpion, young tadpoles, dragonfly nymphs, water snails and pond skaters. We were able to view the pondlife up close and learn some fascinating facts about their lives before everything was returned safely back into the shallows.


 

 

Meanwhile overhead bats had already begun to appear and we were able to see two species of Pipistrelle bats, one a Soprano, before it got too dark. Later using bat detectors and torches we listened to and tracked Daubenton's bats as they flew low over the pond using ecolocation to locate their prey and their feet to capture their meal of tiny flying insects.

It is great to explore what is living in the water and usually out of sight, however all ponds are a potential hazard, especially for young children and for safety reasons, they should be supervised at all times.

As a group it is very reassuring to know that conservation work in and around the pond is helping to keep this habitat viable for many species of plants and animals and is adding another dimension to the walkway.

 








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