I’m always looking for new ways to make our garden more wildlife friendly. The latest addition to our garden has been a small pond. It’s still waiting to have the edges tidied up and so on, hence the lack of posts about it to date but it has been keeping us all entertained for the last month or so as we watch its waters fill up with living organisms.
Having a wildlife pond of some kind is really important. Birds, hedgehogs and other animals will use it for drinking water and it can also provide a vital home and breeding ground for frogs, toads, dragonflies and all sorts of water inhabitants. Even a tiny pond will do – you can make one by sinking a washing up tub in the ground, add water and some weed and some rocks piled up to make it easy for wildlife to get in and out. The Wildlife Trust has lots of info if you are interested in having a go.
This week we decided to get a closer look at the little bugs that we’ve spotted drifting around below the surface.
Given that our pond is quite new and small, I didn’t really want to let the girls loose pond dipping just yet. Instead, we made our own pond-oscope out of an old yoghurt carton, giving Roo a less cloudy view below the surface.
Covering the pots in cling held on with an elastic band, Roo then headed outside and was allowed the rare treat of going the other side of our little pond barrier. She used her pond-oscope to take a closer look at the pond weed, at the mosquito larvae (really not the kind of wildlife I was planning on when we built the pond) and the little hoverfly larvae. We also spotted what looked like minute water beetles and some tiny pond snails – both new discoveries!
There’s not a lot in the pond yet but it was still fun to take a peep at things under the surface and the plastic over the end of her pond-oscope also helped to magnify the bottom a little. The pond-oscope will be going into Roo’s outdoor box for future pond examining sessions. I’ll be curious to see what moves into the pond next!
How to make your own Pond-oscope
Making a pond-oscope is really easy although younger children will need help, particularly with the cutting bit! If you are really keen you could make a proper reverse periscope – mirrors and all. That for us is a project for when the girls are older and can get involved in the science of mirrors a bit more!
It goes without saying that you should watch children closely at all times when near water – it doesn’t take much for them to fall in, especially when focusing their attention on peering through a small tube. Shallow ponds can be just as dangerous as deeper water.
What you will need:
- An old large yoghurt pot, plastic bottle or even better, something long like a Pringles tube. If it’s not plastic it needs to be fairly robust to survive getting dunked! A bit of old piping would be even better!
- Cling film (or other transparent, flexible plastic).
- Elastic band.
- Sharp scissors or craft knife
- A pond or stream to go dabbling in!
How to build your pond-oscope:
- Using sharp scissors or a craft knife, cut the end off your large pot, bottle or tube.
- Stretch your clingfilm (or plastic) tightly across the newly opened end.
- Secure with elastic band tightly.
n.b. If you are using a yoghurt pot with a transparent lid then you can just use the lid instead and cut a viewing opening at the bottom end of the pot instead. It makes a stronger viewing end but be aware that water will probably get seep in before too long unless an adult secures the entire rim of the lid with something like superglue (please be careful around kids with that stuff…it scares me) or some kind of sealant.
- If your pot is transparent on its sides then you might want to roll up a bit of dark card and pop it inside around the edges to help focus your view. Sometimes the extra light can be helpful though, so do experiment.
- Head off to your pond or stream and take a look below the surface!