Second Island at Haydn’s Pool

The main island on Haydn’s Pool in Anderton Nature Park provides nesting habitat for a number of species of wading birds but also for the ubiquitous Canada Geese. These oversized aliens are prone to trample the nests of their smaller neighbours, making it difficult for species such as Little Ringed Plover to breed successfully. Furthermore, in recent years, the island has become increasingly overgrown with rank vegetation – in particular with phragmites (Common Reed), which has now started to grow through the semi-permeable membrane that we put beneath the layer of shingle along the northern and western edges of the island.

These factors combine to threaten the future of the island as a suitable nesting habitat for some of its present inhabitants so, for some time now, we have been considering building another island to improve the habitat for these wading birds. However, we were struggling to come up with an affordable method of constructing such an island that would not soon become heavily vegetated like the existing one. The ideal solution was thought to be an island made out of stone, but where would we get enough stone to make a reasonable sized island? At this point Tata Chemicals (Europe) came to the rescue by agreeing to donate around 50 tonnes of limestone to the project. As the whole area around the pool is made from lime waste, it was decided that the use of limestone would not have any detrimental impact on the ecology of the pool, so we readily accepted their generous offer.

Creating the outline

In order to stabilise the stone, and somewhat reduce the amount needed, we opted to use an array of old car tyres, with the outer ones strapped together using nylon cable ties. Before we could do this we had to get approval from the Environment Agency, as there are strict regulations controlling the disposal of car tyres. Fortunately the Agency were happy for us to proceed, provided we only used clean, oil-free tyres, and Harveys of Northwich supplied us with the necessary tyres.

Dumper delivering the stone

The bulk of the work was scheduled for 28th September 2011, when the FOAM volunteers were joined by a team of 9 members of staff from Tata and a contractor with a tracked dumper truck. The Rangers used the tractor to load the dumper, which then carried the stone to the site of the island, with the volunteers then working hard to level it out.

Once all the limestone had been put in place it was then “blinded” with a thin covering of sand before being capped with 11.5 tonnes of shingle.

Ready for the shingle

The result was a 12m x 5m shingle island ready for the arrival of breeding Oystercatchers, Lapwings and Little Ringed Plovers in spring 2012.

Only the water is missing

However, for an island to be worthy of the name it really needs to be surrounded by water!

As a result of the driest spring for 20 years, Haydn’s Pool was reduced to a small puddle, the lowest water level ever seen since the pool was constructed.

As there are no watercourses that feed the pool, we normally rely on rainfall to make up the water lost by evaporation.

This time, though, it will be necessary to supplement this (unless we are to have the wettest winter on record) so we are now looking into other ways of refilling Haydn’s Pool.

In the meantime we will continue to manage the original island to enable it to support a variety of nesting birds but at least the Oystercatchers and Little Ringed Plovers should now have a secure future in the area.

Alan Redley contacted the Brine and Water Business of INEOS Enterprises Ltd at Holford Brinefields to find out whether they had a suitable pump which they might be prepared to loan, so we could pump water from Witton Brook.  They responded magnificently and offered to make available a connection on an existing water main which runs near Haydn’s Pool, to enable us to fill the Pool from their main.  This has the major benefit of being virtually silent compared with a portable pump and will be visually unobtrusive.

Saved the best job for Dave

We met with the INEOS Team on site to view the existing main, valve and drain point and to agree what needed to be done to establish the new connection.

Ranger Dave James generously offered volunteer help to clear away some redundant brickwork from around the valve. The INEOS Team looked relieved to hear Dave’s offer, since removing the brickwork meant working deep in water and silt!

Having made his generous offer, Dave wasn’t able to be there when the volunteers started this work! Two volunteers cut some steps into the bank to improve access and two of us removed the brickwork which was above the level of water and silt.

When Dave returned we got our own back. The only work left for him to complete involved wading up to his thighs in water and silt to remove the final bit of brickwork!

With the brickwork removed, the INEOS Team came back on site and successfully connected a new valve onto their main to provide the feed to Haydn’s Pool.

Testing the new valve

Satisfaction at a job well done!

Volunteers helped the INEOS Team move a long piece of flexible pipe from Neumann’s Flash to Haydn’s Pool, carrying it like a long snake up the path towards Haydn’s Pool. One end of the pipe was moved down the slope and across the ditch to the new valve. The other end was carried up the bank and into the edge of the Pool, after cutting our way through the reed bed.

The water was turned on!

With the pipe manoeuvred into place, the INEOS Team connected it to the valve on their main and turned on the supply. All that remained was to dig a trench where the pipe crossed the path in order to cover the pipe with sand and stone to prevent causing a tripping hazard.

It will take quite a while to refill the Pool, but when we returned three hours after pumping had started, there was already a noticeable difference to the water level. 11 days after starting, the new island really is an island and ducks have taken up residence!

With a job successfully completed, our thanks to the INEOS Team for their magnificent and generous response to our appeal for help.

Before new pipe installed

48 hours after filling started

11 days and ducks have returned!

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