That was the title of the course that I ran at the centre today and all of the participants left inspired and enthused to build new, or better manage existing, garden ponds - so apart from an hour or two spent pond dipping and identifying the catch and then cleaning up the equipment and classroom at the end of the course, most of my time was spent inside, despite the beautiful weather! Highlights? Watching the smooth newts "performing" on "pond cam", looking at an eft (baby newt) under the microscope, newly emerged damselflies drying out by their discarded exuvae on the soft rushes, an amazing day-glo green giant dragonfly nymph that must have recently cast it's old "skin" in favour of one with a bit of wriggle room to grow into and a moderate sized great diving beetle larva with a monstrous appetite to match its monstrous appearance!
For what ever reason this year seems to be a really good one for these impressive and fearsome larvae in the centre pond and they may well be the result of a prodigious mating session of great diving beetle that were in front of pond-cam on and off for several days last summer (of course they may not have been the same pair, but it seemed like it!). The web cam is invariably on the pond during the day at the moment and it is well worth following the link from the Blashford Lakes reserve pages of the Trusts website to see what is going on - smooth newts, palmate newts, beetle and dragonfly larvae are regularly on show and we are quite frequently seeing a fish-eye view of the pair of mallards that are spending a lot of time on the pond too, which is a lovely rare treat!
Elsewhere on the reserve there was a black tern over Ibsley Water yesterday morning and the lapwing chicks were still doing fine. On Ivy Lake the great crested grebe "humbugs" are also doing well and are now well past the "cute stage" though they do still have their stripy heads.
I also disturbed three female roe deer near Ivy North when I opened up - pretty soon they will be having their fawns if they have not done so already. Visitors to the reserve can be lucky enough to see them as the mothers often leave them in the vegetation quite near the paths, where they rely on their camouflage dappled shade spotting and sitting very still to avoid detection - which they often do! If you are lucky enough to come across a young deer this summer, either on the reserve or elsewhere , enjoy the sight quietly but please leave it be. They are not "abandoned" and the mother knows exactly where she has left them and will return when she is ready and you have moved on.
Apart from that my wife and little boy arrived for the last hour of the day, so we wandered up to Goosander Hide to enjoy the sand martin spectacle,all of the dragon and damsel flies on route and playing pooh sticks along the way!