We now have nine ponds at Eaton: each one is different and serves a different purpose, whether ecological or golfing. They are mostly in excellent condition with clear water and a good variety of marginal vegetation. Some annual maintenance is however required to control blanket weed and overgrowth of reedmace, soldier plants and Canadian pondweed.
All the ponds on the course, both original and new, have been provided with marginal shelves. This has been partly a matter of safety, in case a golfer slips down the bank when trying to retrieve his ball, but also to provide an area for marginal pond vegetation and to arrest a ball rolling down the bank. The introduction of marginal vegetation in ponds has in all cases been successful and plants such as flag iris, rushes, water celery, common reed, marsh marigold and water plantain are to be encouraged. These plants and others provide good habitats for insects, such as damsel flies, and for amphibians.
Ponds have generally been designed to be a minimum of 1m deep. At this depth the water stays at a relatively constant temperature so that fish and other life have a refuge from the extremes of winter and summer. This depth also controls the spread of reedmace. The maximum depth of any pond on the course is 1.50m. The car park pond may be deeper.
The banks of open ditches have been allowed to grow long in certain areas where the slope of the ditch is sufficient to pass the flow and the vegetation does not interfere excessively with the run of play. Growth on Guy Lane Brook in front of the 5th red tee provides an ecological corridor between Waverton Gorse and areas of long rough within the course. Canalisation downstream of the 16th bridge has been found necessary to stabilise the banks of the brook.
A number of additions to the ponds have been made in recent years.
The 5th pond was constructed in 2004 making use of three existing basins which were previously marl pits: the pond provides a pleasing approach to the 5th green.
The 3rd pond was extended to more than double its size in 2007, greatly improving the appearance of both the 3rd and 4th holes.
The 6th pond was excavated in 2010, again making use of a previous marl pit: the pond provides interest to the 6th hole.
Fish have been introduced to some of the ponds, but others have been kept free to allow newts, frogs and toads to breed safely. Only indigenous fish such as roach, rudd and tench have been allowed. The three native newt species, the common newt, the palmate newt and the great crested newt, have all been seen on the course. Newts, though abundant, are rarely seen except between February and June, when they move to the ponds to breed. In summer they live in long grass. In winter they hibernate under stones and in crevices.
Wetlands have been introduced in parts of the 5th and 6th ponds. They are defined as land areas covered by water some or all of the time and support a special range of plants, requiring little oxygen. Some of these plants already grow around the margins of our existing ponds. The habitat is ideal for many invertebrates, such as water beetle, dragonfly larvae, water scorpions and others. Ducks find most of their feed in shallow water, such as a wetland provides.
A Survey Of Our Ponds And Ditches
In 2008 a survey was made of the life in our ponds and ditches in order to give an indication of their ecological health and interest. The survey of “ aquatic macroinvertebrate fauna” was done by Dr Mike Tynen of Cheshire Wildlife Trust. A full copy of his report can be found in the club bar.The nine ponds and two ditches showed varying degrees of wildlife activity. Those ponds with most wildlife were the 18th pond (26 species), the 8th pond (20), the 5th pond (18), and the original 3rd pond, (17, which included two “nationally notable” species). In general the older the pond the more species can be found there, so the result for the 5th was surprising in that it was only established four years ago: it does however have a higher proportion of wetland than other ponds and such areas are ideal for development of freshwater species.
Some ponds performed badly. The pond by the green-keeper's shed (with only 3 species) receives wash-water, albeit treated, from the machine stand and also the effluent from the septic tank nearby; furthermore it is overhung with trees and has recently been dredged. The 16th pond (8 species) is stocked with fish and has also been dredged recently for removal of reed mace. The car park pond (12 species) has also been stocked with fish. Few beetles or water bugs were found, possibly due to the fish, but there were plenty of damsel flies, a few snails and a Great Crested Newt.
Overall the species list is rated as “of fairly high conservation value”, which is the middle of five categories.
From a practical point of view the survey shows that our freshwater habitats are in good condition with a good range of species. The surveyor did suggest however that the shelves, which we now incorporate around the margins of all our ponds, should be wider so as to promote more extensive growth of marshy vegetation. The inclusion of a wetland in the development of the 6th pond is fully in accord with that suggestion.
The survey was done as part of a series of surveys aimed at establishing an ecological record of all forms of wildlife on the course. The plan is to do another survey in say 5 years time to see how our various water features on the course are evolving.
Pond Plants at Eaton
The following plants can be found in the ponds at Eaton.
Broad-leaved rooted plants