Kingston University Biodiversity Action Group

15-11-14: Pond…ering improvements at Kingston Hill

On Saturday we had our annual pond maintenance day at Kingston Hill. The pond is in a fairly good state after several years of work to remove aquatic and marshy vegetation which had covered all of the open water in the pond.
Getting ready to get our feet wet

Recent works have concentrated on achieving two thirds vegetation cover with the rest of the pond being open water.
Pre work showing the area of open water in the middle
This year we wanted to work at whittling into the vegetation areas creating clear lines of sight to the bank of the pond.
Planning our vision for the next few years
We are doing this for two reasons:

  1. Creating these openings of clear water amongst the vegetation increases the edge habitat between open water and aquatic vegetation. This increases the structural habitat diversity inthe water.
  2. These open water areas near the bank also makes it easier to survey the pond without entering and disturbing the water. This will help in our aims to survey the pond in 2015.
Amphibians such as newts often use open water habitat for displaying in the breeding season. Whereas submerged vegetation is utilised by female newts as they lay their eggs on the plants and then fold over the leave to create a covered submerged parcel which protects the eggs from predators. 

Smooth newt in a south London pond - are they around at Kingston Hill?
KUBAG volunteers spent last Saturday digging hard to create two clear water sections in the vegetation.
The pond is a shallow concrete lined pond which often dries down to wet mud with a few locations of overlying water; this is in fact brilliant for a lot of wildlife, as the conditions wont support illegal fish introductions.

Think of fish in this case as insatiable omnivores eating everything else in the pond studies by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust shows. The lack of fish gives species such as dragonfly larvae and amphibian tadpoles to mature and survive…if they can survive each other!

Despite being lined with concrete, the vegetation was really hard to remove as the roots were well matted together, volunteers worked hard through the day to cut sections of the vegetation away, tow it over to the bank and host it out.

...DIG!!!  Zaraha and Alex aiming to dig for victory
Natania working on the rely line to drag out cut vegetation roots and rubbish

Checking progress at half time

Using buoyancy to our advantage

As Alex knows, the hard part is hoisting out the roots

Digging is a messy business 

The vegetation which we removed, was left on the bank for some time to allow any invertebrates to escape back into the pond, and then moved to a marshy area of the woods downhill of the pond.

The pile up

Natania helps get the large soil and vegetation clumps higher up the bank

Alex moves the vegetation off to the drop point after lunch
This stops nutrients from the decomposing vegetation being washing back into the pond, while continuing to allow animals caught up in the vegetation to move into the marshy ground and use it as a route back to the pond.

Dragging up all of the loose stuff onto the bank in the rain

Whistle (or smile) while you work
We found a few large stones and one concrete pillar post which had been dumped into the pond. While we removed all of the dangerous rubbish such as discarded plastic bottles and food wrappers which animals can get caught in, we used the stones that we found to create small islands in the water which should act as features which may attract animals to it.

Alex, Zarah, Winsome and Natania worked really hard and together we managed to clear two channels up to the bank.
Adding a little perspective to the clearance works
Natania, Winsome, Zarah, Alex and me (behind the camera :)) after a hard but worth while days work

Next year we’ll be seeing if these areas are being utilised by amphibians in the spring and then using our results to see how many more areas we’ll aim to modify next Winter.

As we were packing up we saw a suspected southern hawker fliting about the pond laying eggs. Though late in the year, these should hatch next year when the larvae will spend around 2-3 years developing before emerging into more brightly coloured jewels of the sky.
A clear shot of a southern hawker from earlier on in the year in Kingston.

We’ll be back up at Kingston Hill in a few weeks for the fully booked woodland workshop and then again on the 6th of December to continue to reduce the amount of invasive rhododendron that we have on site. 

We still have places on the rhodo bash day and would welcome help cutting down this invasive plant species from our site, email me at if you are free and can make it.

Ta for now


  1. Good job on the pond!
    I wish I could give you a hand there. Love to dig in nature. Kingston area in general has such a luxurious landscape.

  2. Thanks Jessica,
    It was a great day despite the rain with a really good bunch of enthusiastic volunteers. We run regular biodiversity events, so if you are in the area feel free to sign up to any of the events (advertised on the right hand of the blog).