The Green Heart of Poringland


Lakes Celebrate Successful Tree Bid - posted 6 March 2020

Poringland Lakes has won a successful bid for a large quantity of trees, free from the Woodland Trust.

The 420 sapliings comprising hazel, blackthorn, crab apple, dog rose, elder and rowan will provide 100 metres of double row hedging which has been earmarked for the newly profiled mound adjacent to the car park.

The Woodland Trust is giving away thousands of trees to schools and local communities, subject to a successful bidding process.  The programme has been generously sponsored by Sainsbury’s, the Postcode Lottery and Joules.

The consignment of trees is expected to arrive in November, ready for planting before the year end.

Volunteers Construct New Pathway – posted 4 March 2020

Conservation volunteers Peter Carman and David Garrod spent a glorious Spring day improving access to one of the more remote parts of Poringland Lakes.

Since the introduction of otter fencing, the grassed area close by Noble has been virtually inaccessible.  Previously it was a favourite spot for visitors to while away some time on a strategically placed log which proved popular with young families.

Soon the area will be accessible again, thanks to the efforts of Peter and David who have constructed a new pathway through the copse.  The work has involved cutting back gorse, re-profiling the ground and defining the new pathway.

Dead Fence Extension - posted 20 February 2020

Following further work to remove fallen or dangerous trees, volunteers Peter Carman and Dave Garrod have taken the opportunity to expand the dead fence in the conservation area.

The pro-type fence in the copse has been extended to provide additional shelter both for animals and insects as well as anglers fishing Gudgeon.  Similar fences are expected to be constructed as strategic points across the site to give improved habitat.  

Dead Fence Comes Alive – posted 13 February 2020

Despite the devastating loss of trees caused by Storm Ciara, volunteers have been busy using the brash to build a ‘dead fence’ in the copse behind Gudgeon.

The idea is the brainchild of conservationist David Garrod who has seen similar constructions at other nature reserves throughout the county.

“In this way we can utilise the brash from fallen trees in a more environmentally friendly and useful way which reduces the amount of burning, provides shelter and a natural corridor for insects as well as being a barrier to footfall on vulnerable areas such as banks and replanted ground” explained David.

The pilot fence, constructed by Peter Carman and David Garrod, could prove a pro-type for similar fences around the conservation area.

New Stumpery Takes Shape posted 2 January 2020

While many of us were shaking off the effects of the night before, volunteers Peter Aspinall and Peter Carman spent New Year’s Day constructing a stumpery at Poringland Lakes.

Similar to a rockery, a stumpery traditionally consists of tree stumps arranged upside-down or on their sides to show the root structure which are carefully arranged to allow ferns, mosses and litchen to grow on them.  They also form a wonderful habitat for insects.

Popular in Victorian times, stumperies are experiencing something of a renaissance and are seen in ever increasing numbers in nature reserves and ornamental gardens. One famous modern stumpery is that at Highgrove House in Gloucesterhire, the home of Prince Charles, which is considered to be the largest stumpery in Britain.

Council Volunteers Pile In

Earlier today, a team of volunteers from South Norfolk and Broadland Councils cleared well over a ton of weed from the conservation pond and, in doing so, established beyond doubt that the lakes’ crucian carp breeding programme is proving a huge success.

Under the watchful eye of conservation trustee Peter Aspinall and Board member Paul Bonham, the small team comprising two men and two women, carefully sifted through every strand to make certain that none of the aquatic wildlife was unduly disturbed.

In doing so they discovered literally scores of tiny crucian carp, clearly offspring from the 50 or so pure crucians introduced to the pond in April 2018.  In addition they returned a host of aquatic wildlife including great diving beetles, water scorpions, pond snails, newts and dragonfly nymphs.

Despite prolonged and often heavy showers interspersed with sunny intervals, the team certainly seemed to enjoy themselves despite often being waste high in water.  So enthusiastic were they that they offered to come back more regularly on a voluntary basis to help out with conservation work.

“We can’t thank the team enough” said conservation trustee Peter Aspinall.  “They did an enormous amount of work, sometimes in difficult conditions but despite being drenched everyone enjoyed it and had a smile on their face.  A great bunch of people and a great day” summed up Peter.

The event was part of South Norfolk’s volunteering programme which underlines the Council’s commitment to supporting the community it serves.

Employees, including those from Broadland Council,  take part of their annual leave and are given an equal amount of time off to carry out a wide variety of tasks benefitting the local community.  The programme also provides team building opportunities and raises the public profile of South Norfolk Council as well as enabling employees to support key events in their communities.

Surprises Galore in Conservation Pond

With the site closed due to the recent oxygen crash, wildlife enthusiasts Peter Apsinall and Colin Sendall took the opportunity to clear out weed from the conservation pond.

The pair diligently removed the weed before sifting through every piece to ensure that any fish and insects were returned to the pond unharmed.

It was certainly a dirty job but Peter and Colin seemed to relish in the challenge as the pond was teeming with aquatic life and turning up surprises at every corner.

Among the huge diversity of aquatic life they found were lots of dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, common frogs, common newts in various degrees of growth, great diving beetles, pondskaters, backswimmers, ramshorn snails and great pond snails as well as several water scorpions.

But perhaps the most pleasing find was the sheer volume of sticklebacks that have found their way into the pond.

“There were scores of stickleback fry which proves they are breeding well.” said Peter Aspinall.

Conservation expert Colin Sendall was equally excited about his visit.

“The sunken pond with its reed mace, marginal plants and sheltered location is a haven for a huge variety of aquatic creatures, especially damselflies and dragonflies” said Colin.  “It really is a special place and something the village should be proud of.”

Now the trustees are hoping volunteers from South Norfolk Council will pay a visit later in the month to undertake conservation work on the crucian carp pond.

Tree Planting Proposals Awaited

The ravages of the driest summer in years combined with an ever reducing water table, have had a drastic effect on the trees at Poringland Lakes.

Both copses between Gudgeon and Noble lakes have been badly hit, so much so that experts are predicting the entire stock of pioneer species birch and goat willow will be lost within a couple of seasons.

Faced with this dire scenario, trustees have brought together a number of tree experts, headed by Poringland tree warden Henry Gowman, to decide the long term future and agree a tree management programme.

The first of those meetings, which also included arborist Ben Hogben, sadly concluded that many of the trees are already dead and need felling.  As a result an immediate programme of works will be carried out, pollarding those trees that might be saved and felling the deadwood.

In the meantime, Henry Gowman together with the lakes own tree expert and fellow tree warden Peter Aspinall will consider the best way forward and report to the trustees with a view to carrying out a substantial tree planting programme in the autumn.

A Magnificent Sight 

The gorse at Poringland Lakes is really a magnificent sight this year.

Favourable weather conditions have ensured an excellent growing season.  As a result the gorse (Ulex minor), a spiny evergreen shrub with bright yellow flowers, looks better than ever.

A signature plant for banks, heaths, and commons, gorse is a wonderful pollinator plant and provides protective cover for birds.  As well as its vibrant blossom, gorse has a distinctive coconut and vanilla smell while the cracking of the seed-pods in hot sunshine is said to sound similar to the clacking calls of stonechats which perch on its sprigs.

Its peak time is now, in April and May, when almost all the plant is covered in bright yellow blossom.  However a few yellow flowers can be seen all year round, even in the harshest of winters – which is good news for lovers!

Norfolk folklore suggests that you should only kiss your loved one when gorse is in flower – so it’s just as well gorse is pretty much in bloom whatever the time of year! In fact, a few yellow flowers can generally be seen even in the harshest of winters.

Gorse is widespread at Poringland Lakes but on the Mound and at the back of Noble it looks particularly impressive.

Tree Planting Programme in Full Swing

The tree planting programme continued earlier today when countryside wardens Peter Aspinall and Colin Sendall planted over 50 trees and hedging whips at the lakes.

In the past six months, the lake’s tree stock has suffered badly from drought, high winds and the falling water table.  As a result many trees have died or been uprooted but happily they are now being replaced with a variety of broadleaves, conifers and hedging including a mixture of Scots Pine, English Holly, Dogwood, Field Maple, Hazel and Beech.

Costing close on £200, the trees have been funded by voluntary contributions from the public and patronage from local businesses including Groundhog, Poringland Dental Practice and Zaks.

County Wildlife Site Hopes Dashed

Poringland Lakes’ hopes of becoming a County Wildlife Site have been thwarted.

The selection panel declined PCFLA’s bid on the basis that “because of the size of the site, being quite small, in relation to the species-diversity and the relatively recent creation of some of the habitats on site.”

However the Norfolk Wildlife Group was keen to emphasise “that the decision does not detract from the value of the lakes to local people and as a local area for wildlife.  With this in mind, we are still happy to give occasional advice and support with wildlife management.”

While the decision came as a disappointment to everyone connected with the lakes especially the volunteers who had worked tirelessly to improve the wildlife habitat, it was a body blow for Association president Dave Gudgeon who had campaigned for more than a decade for the lakes to have County Wildlife Site status.

Report Confirms Tree Stress

A special report commissioned by the trustees has confirmed that many of the lakes’ trees are struggling to survive.

The findings form part of a detailed 23 page report on the health of the tree stock together with a proposed management and re-planting programme.  The survey and report was carried out by leading arborist Jamie Foster from Farmland Forestry.

Soil conditions, drought and a microscopic fungus-like organisism, Phytophthora, have combined to severely affect the trees, especially the birches and goat willow.  The copse has been particularly badly hit.  The paper reports that:

“The whole site is on very light sandy soil and is therefore very free draining. This means that all the trees on site are exposed to more extreme drought conditions, like the 57 days with no rain experienced earlier in the year.

The self-set Birch and Willow in the copse range from one year-old to 20 years-old.  These trees will naturally thin themselves with many dying as they try to develop whilst competing for resources, predominantly light and water.  They also all have varying degrees of Phytophthora and are naturally susceptible to drought on the sandy soil which will speed up their natural die-back.

Phytophthora symptoms include wilting, yellow or sparse foliage and branch dieback. In many cases the symptoms get progressively worse until the tree dies.  These above-ground symptoms indicate that the tree is having trouble taking up water and nutrients through a poorly-functioning root system, often caused by drought. 

The report suggests that the dead or weaker trees be felled to allow the remaining trees to develop; however the mature oaks and pines are faring much better, so much so that report goes on to recommend that more oaks be planted.

The bank in the north west of the site is ideal for replanting with Evergreen Oak and Field Maple which will stabilise the bank, are evergreen and can be easily managed in the future.

In addition to a replanting programme, the report also recommends an extensive coppicing regime particularly the gorse and goat willow.

While much of the coppicing and ground level work can be carried out by volunteers, the high level work will need to be done by specialist contractors.  The trustees are in the process of obtaining quotes for the work and are expected to meet shortly to commission a suitably qualified contractor.

Lakes Join Wild Patches 

Poringland Lakes is now part of a major conservation project.

Funded by the Broads Authority with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the South Yare Wildlife Group has created The Wild Patch project to encourage landowners to consider how they might manage their land to encourage wildlife.

The Wildlife Group offers a wealth of advice on matters such as habitat management, including ponds, especially those without fish which often teem with wildlife including dragonflies, snails, beetles, pond skaters, water boatmen, frogs, toads and newts.

The project at Poringland is being co-ordinated by lakes’ conservation trustee Peter Aspinall.  To mark the lakes’ involvement in the scheme, Peter proudly placed two marker plaques beside each of the conservation lakes.

For further information about the scheme, please click on https://southyarewildpatch.org/

Tree Inspections Completed

Lakes conservationist Peter Aspinall met with Farmland Forestry’s Jamie Foster at the lakes this afternoon to inspect the arboreal stock in preparation for a report on the health and safety of the trees. 

The pair inspected virtually every tree on the site.  Making his third visit to the lakes which he described a “magical”, Jamie offered some sound advice to tree warden Peter.  In addition Jamie took several photographs which will form the basis of his report and recommendations to the trustees.      

The eagerly awaited report in expected within the next two weeks. 

Simply Crucians 

Following representations from the angling community, the trustees have agreed that the crucian carp conservation pond be retained exclusively for that species and that no additional fish (ie roach and tench) be introduced.  The pond will remain as a crucian stock pond and fishing will be prohibited. 

As the stock grows and multiplies, it is envisaged small numbers will be netted and introduced into the fishing lakes. 

The project will continue to be managed under the guidance of Dr Carl Sayer from the University of London.        

The pond is also a haven for damselflies and dragonflies.  Of the 40 or so species found in Britain, over 20 have been seen at the lakes, including the relatively rare Norfolk Hawker. 

Kneeling Platform Nears Completion

Work on building a kneeling platform on the edge of the conservation pond is nearing completion. 

Trustees Peter Aspinall and Paul Bonham have been busily constructing the new platform which will allow youngsters to get closer to the water’s edge to carry out pond dipping. 

The conservation pond is a wonderful breeding ground for damselflies and dragonflies as well as toads, frogs and other aquatic life.  Of the 40 or so species of damselflies and dragonflies found in Britain, over 20 have been seen at the lakes, including the relatively rare Norfolk Hawker.

Local wildlife enthusiast Ted Lemmon described Poringland Lakes and its conservation ponds as “one of the best venues for dragonflies I have seen in over 40 years of wildlife photography.  Not only does it have rare dragonflies like the Norfolk Hawker but the sheer variety of dragonflies in such a small site is amazing" said the former countryside ranger.

Dipping nets and specimen trays are available to local schools and other organisations to encourage more children to take an interest in nature and the pond’s aquatic life in particular.

Tree Devastation Causing Concern

Drought conditions and a dramatic drop in the water table are taking their toll on the lakes’ trees.

The once vibrant copse has been virtually wiped out, leaving volunteers with little option but to fell the dead trees. 

Unfortunately the damage is not limited to the copse. Across the site, most trees are struggling to survive. Sadly some of the best and longest established ones will have to be removed as they now present a danger to the public. 

The trustees have turned to one of the region's most respected arborist to advise on how best to manage the situation. 

Jamie Foster of Farmland Forestry in Suffolk has visited the site on two occasions to view the damage and is preparing a report for the committee on how best to manage the situation.            

The report will include recommendations for a re-planting programme as well as a comprehensive survey on the health of the trees together with a safety report. 

Conservation Day Success 

Poringland Lakes’ conservation day proved a huge success as staff from South Norfolk Council joined local volunteers in a concentrated effort to de-weed the conservation ponds and complete the extensive tree clearance programme. 

Lakes’ president and former vice-chairman of South Norfolk Council Dave Gudgeon was full of praise for the South Norfolk team headed by Peter Aspinall. 

"The lads did a fantastic job" said Dave. "The amount of work they got through was unbelievable. They were really enthusiastic and have certainly made a big difference."

The day opened with a publicity shoot which included South Norfolk Council chairman John Overton before the team started the challenging task of clearing bulrushes and invasive Canadian pondweed from the conservation ponds, taking extreme care to return any creatures back into the water.

After a well deserved break and a light lunch, the team moved into the wood area, clearing brash to the bonfire site. Finally, to complete a very successful day, the team trimmed back the gorse in the car park. 

"The lads seemed to really enjoy their day and took and keen interest, especially in the aquatic wildlife" said Dave. "They were a great set of lads and hopefully they will be able to return sometime in the future" he added.               

South Norfolk's PR team were also in attendance. It is hoped a feature on the lakes and the conservation day will appear in a future edition of the Council's 'Link' magazine.

More pics from the day are featured on our sister Facebook page.

Parish Supports Wildlife Site Bid 

Poringland Parish Council has added its weight behind a bid for Poringland Lakes to become a County Wildlife Site (CWS). 

Writing to Norfolk Wildlife Trust in support of the application, parish clerk Catherine Moore said 

“Poringland Lakes is an important community asset. In recent years volunteers have spent many hours improving both the wildlife habitat and visitor experience.  It would be excellent if the site could gain CWS accreditation.”        

An ecological survey of the site will take place in the autumn and the findings presented to a panel of judges for a final decision. 

Wildlife Bid Moves a Step Closer

Poringland  Lakes’ bid to become a Local Wildlife Site moved a step closer after a visit from Norfolk Wildlife Trust.

Conservation officer Helen Baczkowska met trustee representatives to explain the selection process and to tour the site.

Local Wildlife Sites, or County Wildlife Sites as they are known in Norfolk, are identified and selected using robust, scientifically-determined criteria and detailed ecological survey.

Following the visit, Poringland Lakes will now be surveyed as part of that process and hopefully take a step closer to become a Local Wildlife Site.

It has long been a dream of the local community that the lakes could be officially designated, indeed the trustees, under the guidance of Dave Gudgeon, made an unsuccessful bid a decade ago.

Since then huge improvements have been made to the habitat as well as the visitor experience.

"Helen seemed particularly impressed by the visitor information board as well as some of the habitat improvements including the wildflower meadow, kingfisher wall, tree planting programme and conservation ponds" said trustee Paul Bonham.

"Not only did Helen explain the process but she gave us some useful advice on how best to manage the site. We may even be able to develop a proper management plan in conjunction with local college students" he added.

Fellow trustee Liz Dack was equally optimistic and enthusiastic.

"Poringland Lakes is a really important community asset" said Liz. "We have a huge array of wildlife especially birds and insects. Fingers crossed for a good outcome."

The ecological survey is expected to take place later in the year with the selection panel due to meet in November.  There are 1,300 County Wildlife Sites in Norfolk. 

Tree Replacement Programme Begins 

Work is well underway to replace some of the trees lost in the recent gales. 

Lead trustee for conservation, Peter Aspinall, took advantage of the mild weather to strategically plant several Scots pines around the site. 

“The new trees will give some much needed all year greenery as well as providing cover for birds” said Peter.  “Once they develop they will be a spectacular addition to the landscape” he added. 

The replacement trees were funded largely from donations from the Association’s patrons as well as voluntary contributions. 

Wildflower Meadow Bursts into Colour

The newly created wildflower meadow has burst into colour. 

The news will come as manna from heaven to lakes’ conservationist Peter Aspinall who, together with our partners Norfolk Homes, has been instrumental in developing the site at the heart of the lakes complex. 

Previously to area was just a gravel ‘wasteland’ but now after tonnes of top soil have been imported and close on £300, funded by Friends and neighbours, has been invested in wildflower seed, the site really is as pretty as a picture.        

“It looks wonderful” said Peter.  “I know it cost a lot of money but it really looks amazing and is already attracting a wide range of butterflies and insects.  It’s a great investment for the future” added Peter.

Wildflower Meadow Takes Shape 

The last addition to Poringland Lakes landscape, a wildflower meadow, is rapidly taking shape.

After contractors Norfolk Homes profiled the site and imported tonnes of top soil, lakes conservation officer Peter Aspinall has been busily preparing and seeding the area. 

Costing over £300, the seeding programme has been largely funded by voluntary donations, primarily from Friends and local supporters. 

"The new flower meadow should look magnificent" said Peter enthusiastically. "It's been a lot of hard work but in the long term it will be all worthwhile." 

Plans for Wildflower Meadow Well Advanced 

Plans to create a colourful wildflower meadow at Poringland Lakes are well advanced. 

Contractors have been on site this week levelling the ground and grading the top soil ready for seeding. 

The Association plans to spend several hundred pounds developing the area and also the aprons around the conservation ponds. 

Naturalist and lakes trustee Peter Aspinall was excited about the project.          

“This is a wonderful opportunity” he explained.  “Norfolk Homes’ team have spread silt from the lakes over the entire area and topped it with good quality soil.  We are going to buy a substantial amount of wildflower mix which will be seeded in the next few days.  It should be a wonderful sight come the Spring. 

Shed Give More Support

Poringland Lakes have taken delivery of an impressive tawny owl box – compliments of Poringland and District Men’s Shed. 

Shed chairman Henry Gowman presented the state-of- the-art box to lakes’ trustee Ray Noble who was thrilled with the new acquisition. 

“The Men’s Shed have been wonderfully supportive of the lakes” said Ray.  “We are really indebted to them for their help and practical support.” 

The Men’s Shed is a wellbeing project aimed specifically at men who do not tend to have the social networks of women, so when they are made redundant, retire or are bereaved, they do not have the friendship support network to lean on through difficult times. 

The Poringland branch, formed late in 2014, is a place for men to meet and share the tools and resources they need to work on projects of their own. Typical activities may involve making things out of wood, including bird boxes and bug hotels, metalworking, bike repair or just drinking tea and mardling! 

For more about Poringland Men’s Shed, click on https://pdmensshed.org/. 

Living in Luxury

The Lakes have taken delivery of a state of the art bug hotel, compliments of Poringland and District Men’s Shed. 

Hearing of the lakes desire to have a proper bug hotel in preference to the ad hoc wood piles dotted around the site, Shed chairman Henry Gowman, sped into action. 

After discussing this with his colleagues, the Men Shed team quickly built the hotel which has now been installed at the lakes. 

Everyone have been impressed with the new unit, not least conservation expert Peter Aspinall who took delivery. 

“Poringland bugs will now be living in the height of luxury” smiled Peter.  “The attention to detail is remarkable.  Not only does the hotel have its name engraved at the top but there are fish logos dotted around too.  The new bug hotel really is five star luxury!” 

For more information about Poringland and District Men’s Shed click on https://pdmensshed.org/. 

Scouts Donate Bird Boxes

Poringland Lakes has taken delivery of eight refurbished bird boxes, compliments of Brooke and Poringland Scout Group. 

Lakes’conservationist Peter Aspinall was delighted with the gift – and so too were the local bird population.  Literally less than 30 seconds after installing one of the boxes, a blue tit immediately popped into the box to inspect what could become a new home! 

“It was remarkable to see” said head bailiff Ray Noble.  “Peter hardly had time to put down his screwdriver than the blue tit was in there!” 

“We are really grateful to the Scouts” said Peter Aspinall.  “The boxes all have metal collars around the entry holes which will safeguard them from woodpeckers.” 

Tree Planting Programme Heralded a Great Success

A working party of fifteen plus volunteers turned out in the glorious winter sunshine planting close on 400 hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) whips along the southern perimeter of the lakes and at other locations around the site.

Remedial work was also carried out on the 80 or so whips that were planted in the Spring on the bank on the north side of the lakes below the Mill Close development.

Trustee and tree warden Peter Aspinall, who oversaw the operation, was thrilled with the result.  

“What a fabulous morning in more ways than one” he exclaimed.  “We had a great turnout and everyone really mucked in.  Planting 400 trees often in tricky locations was no mean feat” said Peter.  “But everyone rose to the challenge and did a marvelous job.  

"It was particularly pleasing to see so many of our neighbours from Hillside and Mill Close giving up their Sunday morning to help. Please pass on my personal thanks to all the volunteers” enthused Peter.

But it appears the hard work doesn’t stop there.  Enjoying a well earned cuppa at the end of the morning, Peter explained that he would like to see more evergreens planted including some mature trees like Scots pine and holly.  Watch this space!

400 Trees to be Planted at Lakes

Poringland Lakes has unveiled its most ambitious tree planting programme yet.

On Sunday 4 December, volunteers plan to plant over 400 small trees at the lakes.  The hedging, comprising hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) and blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), to be planted on the southern boundary, will be one of the biggest tree planting operations carried out in South Norfolk this year.

“This will provide much needed habitat for birds and insects as well as improving site security” explained trustee and conservationist Peter Aspinall.

Costing in excess of £325, the programme is funded by Busseys, who since 2007 have planted a tree for every customer who buys a car.

“We are really grateful to Busseys for funding this work” added Peter Aspinall.  “Also we would like to thank Poringland tree warden Henry Gowman, not only for all the advice and support his gives us but for all his enthusiasm and hard work as chairman of the South Norfolk tree wardens group.”

Busseys too were keen to offer their support

“Busseys are proud to be associated with these projects, not only helping to care for the environment, but to also preserve our local heritage and help educate and inspire the next generation” said a company spokesperson.

The planting programme, to take place between 9am and midday on Sunday 4 December, will require a considerable amount of volunteer effort support.

“We are confident our wonderful volunteers will again step up to the mark and enable the work to be done in one morning” said Peter Aspinall confidentially.  “If you could spare just an hour, that would be a great help” he added.    

84 Trees Planted at Lakes 

The biggest tree planting programme ever undertaken at Poringland Lakes was completed earlier today when ten volunteers took advantage of the Spring sunshine to plant 84 trees on the bank neighbouring Mill Close development.

Under the watchful eye of Poringland tree warden Henry Gowman, the small team scaled the steep slope to plant a wide range of native British trees including guelder rose, cherry plum, bird cherry, way faring, elderberry, spindle, common dogwood, hawthorn, blackthorn, dog rose, hazel, goat willow and rowan. 

"It was a superb effort" said trustee and wildlife warden Peter Aspinall. "Everyone mucked in and we did the work in record time." 

As part of the ongoing planting programme, tree warden Henry Gowman is considering planting a wide range of native wildflowers 'plugs' on the slope to stabilise the banking as well as providing food and cover for birds and insects. 

Before planting began, warden Peter Aspinall, took the opportunity to install another half dozen bird boxes. 

"To my amazement, literally with minutes, a blue tit was investigating one box as a potential nest site" said Peter enthusiastically. 

Six of the Best 

The lakes’ maintenance team enjoyed a productive morning, filling in holes in the car park access lane, raking up brash, cutting down dead trees and clearing the banking. 

Among the items discovered in the undergrowth were three old bikes and a sledge! 

Fishery manager ray Noble was delighted with the team’s efforts         

“It was really a good day and we got a lot done.  Unfortunately the tonne of gravel mix we laid on the access road was not enough for the job, so we’ll need to order some more and finish the job off” explained Ray. 

BTO Donates Bat Boxes 

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)  has kindly gifted Poringland Lakes three specially designed bat boxes for use in the conservation area. 

The boxes are specifically designed for small crevice dwelling bats which are common at Poringland Lakes.  Each unit has a black external surface to absorb heat.  They also incorporate internal ceramic tiles to retain and stabilise box temperatures and have special grooved landing ladders to allow bats easy access.

 “We’d like to thank the BTO’s senior research ecologist Dr Stuart Newson, not only for donating the bat boxes but for his ongoing support for the PCFLA” said warden Peter Aspinall. 

“Stuart kindly undertook a bat survey at the lakes last summer when an astonishing 134 recordings were registered over a two hour period, primarily by Common Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle and Daubenton's bats.  We are hoping Stuart will carry out a similar survey later in the year” added Peter.        

The BTO is an independent charitable research institute combining professional and citizen science aimed at using evidence of change in wildlife populations to inform policy-makers and the general public.  The bat surveys at Poringland Lakes contribute to that vital information base. 

Wardens Unveil Tree Planting Scheme

Poringland tree warden Henry Gowman (pictured left above) has unveiled his plans for a comprehensive tree planting scheme at Poringland Lakes. 

Explaining his proposals Henry said “I had a walk and talk with Peter Aspinall around the lakes and we have worked up a planting scheme which will give cover to birds and insects as well as provide food for wildlife. 

“The lakes is a large area and I think it best that we tackle it in sections over a few winter planting seasons, so we propose that we start with planting the steep bank with about 50 flowering and fruiting trees such as Hazel, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Guelder Rose, Spindle, Wild rose, Wild plum” added Henry.

“This is partly to see how the planting develops over the years and partly to make the labour of planting them more manageable.  Planting 50 trees on that slope will take some physical effort, so you may have to call upon the support of your Friends” said Henry smiling!  

Having accepted Henry’s proposals in full, the next step is to cost out the initial phase and try to obtain some funding in order for planting to begin in the New Year. 

Busy Winter Planned 

Poringland Lakes small but dedicated maintenance team is facing a busy winter.

The four man group of Peter Aspinall, Peter Carman, David Garrod and Ryan Westgarth have drafted up an ambitious programme which includes a considerable amount of tree maintenance, gorse clearing and weed control, especially in the car park area.

The team also plan to salvage the magnificent white water lilies from the conservation ponds before contractors move in to line the ponds.

Just recently the team cleared vegetation from the sandy cliff face bordering the Duffield lake in an attempt to encourage kingfishers to breed. Judging by recent sightings of a male and two female birds, this project looks positively encouraging.

Early Start for Volunteers 

Volunteers took advantage of today’s wonderful  weather to further enhance Poringland Lakes. 

Led by warden Peter Aspinall and bailiff Ryan Westgarth (pictured above), the team stripped out gorse from the sandy bank behind the Duffield lake; removed weed from the conservation pond and transported brash to the bonfire area. In addition, Peter made the most of a 6am start by filling holes in the car park. 

Earlier in the week, maintenance officer Peter Carman and right-hand man David Garrod, cleared the ground in readiness for the new secure storage unit and cut overhanging gorse from the surrounds of Noble lake. 

Inspired by the return of kingfishers, it is hoped the extended sand face will encourage the birds to breed at Poringland Lakes. 

Survey Reveals Healthy Bat Population 

A recent survey at Poringland Conservation Lakes has revealed a healthy bat population. 

The survey, conducted by Dr Stuart Newson, senior research ecologist at the British Trust for Ornithology, revealed three species Common Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle and Daubenton's bat, the latter seen foraging over the water. 

“Daubenton’s bat has a particularly strong association with water where there is abundant invertebrate prey, particularly chironimids” explained Dr Newson. 

“Common and Soprano Pipistrelle are both widespread in the county, although of the two species, Soprano Pipistrelle has the strongest association with water” he added. 

A passive detector was left out to automatically record any bats that passed close by, and a walk around the lakes recorded any additional bats.  134 recording were registered over a two hour period. 

Pipistrelles are the commonest British bats.  Weighing just five grams (less than a £1 coin), a single pipistrelle can eat 3,000 tiny insects in just one night! 

The Daubenton's bat (pictured), known as the 'water bat', take insects from the water's surface with their large feet or tail, which is quite a spectacular sight. 

In addition to the bat survey, Dr Newson noted the abundance of Dark and Speckled Bush-Crickets that evening. 

A comprehensive report detailing the findings has been presented to the lakes’ management committee who plan to monitor the bat population in the coming years. 

Kingfishers Take Up Residency 

Hopes that kingfishers can be encouraged to return to Poringland Lakes look to have been successful. 

The brightly coloured bird has been spotted every day for the past week, raising the spirits of local conservationists.  And no one was more delighted than warden Peter Aspinall who spotted the bird for the first time today. 

“Initially I heard its distinctive call and then saw it perched on a waterside willow where is stayed for several minutes before darting over the Duffield lake.  It was wonderful to see” enthused Peter who managed to capture this beautiful bird on camera.

Further work is planned in the coming days to clear more scrub from the cliff sand face, to encourage kingfishers and sandmartins to nest and breed. 

Kingfishers pairing usually starts in February. Both birds excavate the nest burrow into stone-free sandy bank, usually about 0.5m from the top. The birds choose a vertical bank clear of vegetation, since this provides a reasonable degree of protection from predators. 

The first clutch of six or so eggs is laid late in March or early in April. Both adults incubate the eggs and the chicks hatch 19-21 days later. Each chick can eat 12-18 fish a day, and they are fed in rotation once a chick is fed, it moves to the back of the nest to digest its meal, causing the others to move forward. 

The chicks are normally ready to leave the nest when they are 24-25 days old, but if the fish supply is poor, they can take up to 37 days.  Once out of the nest, the young are fed for only four days before the adults drive them out of the territory and start the next brood.

(see also article below)

Never-ending Job

 Maintaining Poringland Lakes is a never-ending job.  Here one of our wonderful volunteers clears weed from the large conservation pond. 

Project Kingfisher Boost 

Hopes that kingfishers can be encouraged to return and nest at Poringland Lakes have received a major boost after several sightings of the beautiful bird have been recorded in recent days. 

The exciting news comes just days after the European Commission sponsored Birds at Risk report was published warning that the colourful kingfisher, once a common sight on our riverbanks, is now among the 37 species in danger of dying out.  Others include the herring gull, lapwing, curlew and red grouse. 

It is believed there are less than 5,000 breeding pairs of kingfishers are left in the UK.  They are a vulnerable to hard winters and habitat degradation caused by pollution or unsympathetic management of watercourses. Kingfishers are amber listed because of their unfavourable conservation status in Europe.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the UK partner of BirdLife International who carried out the study, believes the publication will set the base for more conservation work to be done in the coming years.         

In recent months volunteers at Poringland Lakes have cut back vegetation to expose a sand faced cliff in the hope that kingfishers will nest there in the future. 

Boxing Day

Seven new bird boxes have been installed at Poringland Lakes – courtesy of Brooke and Poringland Scout Group.  Using redundant pallets, the Scouts made the boxes as part of a practical woodwork exercise linked to the environment. 

“We were more than happy to donate the boxes” said Scouts’ treasurer Andy Miller following a chance encounter with the Poringland Lakes bailiff. 

“The boxes are great” said warden Peter Aspinall.  “They are really well made and should attract tits and robins.”

Peter spent this morning positioning the boxes in a variety of locations across the conservation area. 

He also installed a camera post next to the small conservation pond.  This provides a permanent fixed position which will allow photographers to capture the lakes throughout the season from one static location.

Peter completed a good day’s work by cutting back the gorse adjacent to the Glen Dufflield memorial lake, exposing the sand face which it is hoped will encourage kingfishers and sand martins to nest.

Tree Planting Progresses

Poringland tree warden Henry Gowman, together with his assistant Steve, returned to the lakes today to plant a blackthorn and hawthorn coppice next to the small conservation pond. They also placed a wild cherry close to the large conservation pond. 

“Once established, the blackthorn and hawthorn should provide good cover for birds” said Henry.

Braving the Elements


While many of us were enjoying the Christmas break in the warmth and comfort of our own homes, the lakes’ resident naturalist Nick Elsey was braving icy conditions, cutting back and burning vegetation in readiness for the car park extension programme which is expected to get underway shortly. 

Christmas Boxes

Now that we are in the festive season and most the trees have shed their leaves, the plethora of bird and bat boxes strategically positioned around the site can easily be seen.

Many of the boxes were originally made by local scouts as part of a nature environment project.  The boxes have been regularly maintained by long-serving volunteer Peter Smith. 

In addition a couple of hedgehog ‘houses ‘have be secreted in the undergrowth to help our little friends survive the winter months. 

If you have a bird, bat or hedgehog box you no longer use or would like to make or donate one, please contact our secretary at friends@poringlandlakes.co.uk or give us a call on 01508 493353.

Collection could be possible within a reasonable distance.

Conservation Work Continues Apace 

Operation Kingfisher, an exciting initiative to encourage one of Britain’s most beautiful birds to return to Poringland Lakes, continues apace.

Volunteers took a break from what seems like days of continual rain, to strip out the Russian Vine on the northern boundary adjacent to the Mill Close development.  Russian Vine is a non-native species and very invasive. 

Once the undergrowth is removed, the sand walls will be exposed in the hope that kingfishers and sand martins, once common sightings at the Lakes, will return.

It is planned that the summit of this banking will be planted with native shrubs, such as holly, hazel, hawthorn and wild rose species. This management technique should help to stabilise the banking and continue the committee's aim of principally having native flora on the site.  

Planting Gathers Pace 

The lakes planting programme is continuing apace.  Already several marginal and wetland species have been planted in the lake edges and aprons. 

Last evening, Peter Aspinall (pictured below) who is the warden of Flordon Common, planted some Norfolk Reed and Yellow Flag Iris in the Glen Duffield Memorial Lake and conservation ponds.

Peter also took the opportunity to sow a variety of wildflower seeds around the site.  Among those distributed were Evening Primrose, Hemp Agrimony, Meadow Vetchling, Meadowsweet and along with a species of Knapweed and Figwort. 

It is hoped that once the seed germinate and grow, they will attract a wide range of insects including bumblebees, butterflies and moths. 

Top Naturalists Propose Wildflower Meadow 

Two leading naturalists have recommended that part of the Lake's conservation area be transformed into a wildflower meadow, using exclusively native species. 

David Nobbs, warden of the acclaimed Wheatfen nature reserve, home of the Ted Ellis Trust, and Peter Aspinall, warden of Flordon Common have suggested that the central area be transformed into a colourful wildflower haven. 

It is hoped that careful management will not only attract butterflies and moths but will also encourage bumblebees which are rapidly becoming an endangered species in Great Britain as many native wildflower landscapes have partly been lost due to farming practices and building development. 

The Association’s management committee is expected to discuss the proposals at its next meeting.

Picture Perfect

 This superb photograph of a Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) was taken by our resident naturalist Nick Elsey earlier this week.  Many of Nick’s wonderful nature pics appear on our sister Facebook page.

Operation Kingfisher Gains Momentum

 Operation Kingfisher, an exciting new initiative to encourage one of Britain’s best loved birds to return to Poringland Lakes, gained momentum today as volunteers continued to clear the undergrowth around Lake Duffield.

Under the watchful eye of maintenance officer Peter Carman, the team cleared away scrub to reveal the sand walls, so critical as nesting sites for brilliantly coloured kingfishers and the agile sand martins.  Several waterside perches have also been installed.

 Maintenance officer Peter Carman (right) and David Garrod take a break from thinning out the bankside vegetation in an effort to encourage kingfishers back to Poringland Lakes. 

Kingfishers were regularly seen at the lakes before the water level dropped dramatically.  Now levels have been restored it is hoped the magnificently coloured bird will return and breed at the lakes. 

Kingfishers excavate the nest burrow into the stone-free sandy bank, usually about 0.5m from the top. The birds choose a vertical bank clear of vegetation, since this provides a reasonable degree of protection from predators. 

Kingfishers, with their unmistakeably bright blue and orange plumage, fly rapidly low over water and hunt fish from waterside perches, occasionally hovering above the water's surface. They are a vulnerable to hard winters and habitat degradation through pollution or unsympathetic management of watercourses. Kingfishers are amber listed as an endangered species.  It is estimated there are only 4,000 breeding pairs left in the UK. 

“That’s why is is so important that we try to restore their natural habitat” said warden Ray Noble.  “it would be wonderful if we could encourage kingfishers to breed again in Poringland” he added. 

While work progressed on clearing the sandy cliff faces, another small team continued to cut back gorse to improve public access to the mount viewing area.