Diary for 2018

map of Pauline's Swamp


Friday 5th: Snowdrops have just started to flower.


In flower this month are snowdrops and little else.

Saturday 17th: A work day. Much of the bramble scrub was cleared. The seasonal pond was cleared of much dead sedge. The two areas of grass cuttings from previous years were tidied up by raking and heaping the grass into smaller, taller piles.

February was generally wet. All wet areas were filled to overflowing. At the end of February heavy snow fell


In flower this month are snowdrop, daffodil, primrose and lesser celandine.

Sunday 4th: February's snow started to melt, quite rapidly. Temperature was about 7 degrees C.

Tuesday 6th Snowdrops are now past their best and daffodils are starting to open. There are relatively few daffodil flowers this year as most are blind.

Wednesday 7th: More plants are starting to leaf-up. Young Meadowsweet leaves are now evident.

Friday 9th Two notice boards fixed up in the barn. These were from an old Arken A-frame board discarded by St. Mary's Church, Burwell. Arken in Newmarket supplied new plastic cover sheets at no charge.

Saturday 10th Several toads were evident in the main pond. Also I noticed what appeared to be a goldfish - clearly someone had dumped it. To dump goldfish is a wildlife pond is completely irresponsible!

Sunday 11th Goldfish sighting confirmed. Picture taken. There are now a large number of toads in the pond - probably all males. The females arrive later.

Also I took a net along to remove the surface growth of algae on the lower scrape. Algal growth is usually an indicator of excess nutrient in the water. The Swamp has been home to livestock in the past which is the probable cause.

Monday 12th A digger was used today to raise the level of the causeway, using the soil heap outside the gate.. It will take a while for the soil to settle properly and in the meanwhile we will need to keep raking it level and treading it down.

Wednesday 14th Paul Hawes spent time raking the soil on the causeway flat. It is slowly compacting as people walk on it.

Thursday 15th A vehicle was driven over the still soft soil of the new causeway. It is a mess!

Some frog spawn is evident in the upper scrape. However there is no spawn yet in the main pond. Most of the amphibians evident appear to be toads.

Monday 19th There is some ice on the occasional pond - Saturday and Sunday were below freezing bit it took those two days for a significant amount of ice to form. The ground is too frozen to do any work to improve the causeway but - apart from the mess made on Thursday - the walked-on parts are compacting well.

Complaints have reportedly been made to the council about the state of the Swamp. This resulted in a visit from an annoyed Mike Swift, chairman of the trust, with his with his wife Liz Swift, chair of the Parish Council. It is not clear when the complaints were made but the work has made passable what was a very wet and swampy, nearly impassable, track. Odd the there should be complaints - there is a small clue in the place's name!

Some wood chippings have now been spread to make a more obvious path over the causeway.

Tuesday 20th All the ice has thawed after the cold snap, the toads have spawned. There is no more frog spawn evident.

Wednesday 21st Spent a morning with Paul Hawes making good the damage to the causeway, adding more soil to it, levelling it up more and compacting it. It is now far better than before the work started!

There is toad spawn also in the top scrape, with the single sample of frogspawn. Mating toads are still apparent here and in the main pond.

Friday 30th There is more frog spawn in the main pond - 3 or 4 more spawnings. This was unexpected as frogs usually spawn earlier than toads. Clearly the recent cold spell has altered timings.


Sunday 1st Last autumn yellow rattle (Rhianthus minor) seed was spread in certain area of the meadow. Three patches of grass were cut very close to give then a start. More seed was spread on some of the molehills. Today seedlings are evident in many of these places.

Monday 2nd Observed the first newt. It was small and thin, so probably a male. It was eating frog spawn.

Wednesday 4th The first cowslip flowers are opening. However most of the cowslips are still just small bunches of green leaves. Cowslips (and othe primulas) cross breed with each other and it is conceivable that these very early ones are crosses with early garden primulas.

Saturday 14th a definite sighting of the goldfish fist seen on March 10th. It was hiding in a thicket of willow moss on the bottom. On moving the moss it buried itself in the chara on the bottom, so it is a shy goldfish.

Very evident on the ground was a spray of wood chippings, around the base of an aspen. In this aspen, about 4 metres from the ground, was a newly and neatly pecked hole, so we have a resident woodpecker.

Tay's sunny weather has hastened the spawn hatching. Both frog and toad are now tiny tadpoles.

Sunday 22nd Cuckoo flowers and ground elder are evident. There have never been many cuckoo flowers - East Anglia is too dry for them to properly flourish - but there appear to be more in Pauline's Swamp this year.

Tuesday 24th There may be another water vole: standing at the south west corner of the pond I saw an animal about the right size swimming at the bottom of the pond. It was darting south towards cover so impossible to properly see but it was small for a rat. It had a distinct, long tail.

Thursday 26th This year a water crowfoot (probably ranunculus trichophyllus, see last year) has appeared in some profusion in the main pond. We have been waiting for it to break the surface and flower. However the pond water is so clear that the plant is actually flowering under water!


May 5th Very hot. Plants are flourishing. Pond is crystal clear. We planted a yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia vulgaris). Also added a third fringed waterlily (Nymphoides peltata) to the main pond - one was added last October, another earlier this year.

One on the water crowfoot plants in the main pond has reached the surface and flowered.

Some yellow loosestrife (Lysimachia vilgaris) were planted.

Tuesday 8th The flag irises are now in bloom. The crowfoot in the north east corner of the pond is flowering.




In flower this month are

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Page first published Monday the 17th of April, 2017.
Last modified: Sat, 19 May 2018 13:03:18 BST
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