Notes from St Tiggywinkles: Water feature was a real stick in the mud!

Mud
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On building the Hospital back in 1991 I just had to design water features serving important facilities for the birds and amphibians that passed through as patients.

Over the years I had particularly seen the decline in the wild of frogs, toads and newts.

My first pond was to be ‘the bog pond’ – no birds just amphibians.

Following on were smaller decorative ponds in the visitor centre.

Then to cap it all our miniature lake for ducks and more ducks.

It was made out of two sheets of butyl liner with a small island thrown in, no not “thrown in” but rather put in as a refuge.

Over the years it has been a launch pad for hundreds of recovered ducks and geese, gulls and even gannets.

My massive planting of willows went down well with the local herons who adopt them, every year, to raise their gawky chicks.

But time, 24 years this year, has taken its toll.

The bog pond all but collapsed but could be rebuilt over a couple of weeks.

The main pond was a different kettle of fish.

Actually no fish, that habitat was definitely off limits to our finned friends.

However, over all those years a playground for water birds had led to erosion of the banks where, sadly, the constant refurbishment with sand bags had not stopped the pond from filling up with mud.

The challenge we braved was to now, for the first time in its history, drain the water and remove most, if not all, of the mud.

It took two days and with a great big pump to empty the water but the mud presented a seemingly impossible task. But under the watchful gaze of this year’s herons a ‘sludge gulper’ did the job.

Now, mud free, it is going to take forever to refill the pond to its original glory.