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In the bleak midwater


by Richard Jones

...With that sudden darting plunge it snapped up some small wriggling thing, tossed it into the air and gulped it down. Well I never.


Trees reflected in the surface of waterA heron was morosely inspecting the murky green water of Peckham Rye pond. It stood slightly away from the path, so ignored the passing dogs and my children throwing breadcrumbs to the ducks.

I wondered what it could possibly be fishing for in what is one of the bleakest stretches of water in south London. But as I watched, it arched its neck down and down closer to the surface, then with that sudden darting plunge it snapped up some small wriggling thing, tossed it into the air and gulped it down. Well I never.

Municipal ponds are rarely the source of much wildlife interest, and apart from the Canada geese and coots, there is usually precious little on the 'lake', as it is rather grandiosely signposted.

A few months ago I saw the park rangers loading a huge net sausage of straw into the water. I thought this treatment, intended to prevent algae growing on the surface of the water, was rather fanciful folklore. But I recently came across it on a water-management website, together with suggested quantities per m³ of estimated water volume. Since the park was revamped a year or so ago it is a delightful place to wander, but the pond was always the low point. There are now recently installed baskets of water plants (more needed I think), and wire fences to prevent the geese from trampling some of the newly planted edges. And what's this hawking over the water surface? An emperor dragonfly, Anax imperator. Things are looking up.

Maybe the heron will be a regular visitor. Nearby Dulwich Park has a more open and inviting pond, but last time I was there a heron was being mobbed by a flock of ring-necked parakeets. There was something comical about the solemn slow flapping of the heron being accompanied off the premises by the raucous squawking and frantic aerobatics of 30 parakeets. Peckham Rye is much quieter.



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Gardeners' World Web User 30/09/2008 at 09:30

I got a heron coming to my pond. they are such fantastic birds but they eat your fish. so i have to stop it from eating my fish. so first i got a plastic heron and put that by the pond. well did that stop it. no it never. it still came back. so someone told me to put fishing line around the pond. about a foot in hight around the pond. well i have not seen the heron fore along time now. but just to make sure i got a cat. i don't see it at all now. i have still got the fishing line there. you never know do you?

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:36

i got a heron coming to my pond. they are such fantastic birds.but they eat your fish. so i have to stop it from eating my fish. so first i got a plastic heron and put that by the pond. well did that stop it. no it never. it still came back. so someone told me to put fishing line around the pond. about a foot in hight around the pond. well i have not seen the heron for a long time now. but just to make sure i got a cat. i dont see it at all now. i have still got the fishing line there. you never know, do you?