Ham Pond

For hundreds of years Ham Pond played a vital if unromantic part in village life as a drinking place for the sheep and cattle on the common. Today the pond has new roles as a place for calm public enjoyment, a wildlife haven, and as a key reminder of our village heritage.

The Pond is cared for by the Ham Pond Group, supported by the Ham and Petersham Association, and working in collaboration with Richmond Council. In accordance with its objectives, the Association has actively supported the Ham Pond Group ever since it was formed to look after the pond in 2000.

Vanessa Fison organises regular tidy-ups around the Pond at 10:00 on the first Saturday morning of each month. All ages and dogs are welcome, and litter pickers, gloves and bags are provided. If you would like to lend a hand and join her rota, please email Vanessa.


Grants awarded for pond work

Richmond Civic Trust awarded the Ham Pond Group £4,000 for work on the pond to repair the damage on the island caused by erosion, relocate and repair a section of the south bank, relocate reeds that spoil the view from the south-west facing seats, and refurbish the the water supply arrangements. That work was done in 2010/2011, and the grant covered about 60% of the cost.  Work on a bigger scale than volunteers can manage requires the Group to seek the agreement of the Council and any other interested parties, and then obtain funding. The most recent example is the installation of an overflow pipe to reduce the risk of damage caused by winter floods. The work, funded by a generous grant from the Big Lottery Fund, was carried out in October/November 2011 and tests will follow. 

The overflow pipe installation funded by the Big Lottery Fund.

Please send any comments and suggestions regarding the pond to Vanessa Fison.




Plants

Throughout the 20th century the pond had no significant waterside vegetation and no island (an old island was removed in 1858). The first task of the Ham Pond Group, after its formation in 2000 was to improve this position whilst retaining the all-important "village pond" atmosphere.  Only native plants were introduced, including reeds, willows, dogwood and blackthorn with the colouful purple loosestrife, hemp agrimony and water mint.  But there are often surprises – a welcome newcomer in 2011 was this Gipsywort with the little white flowers (the pink are the purple loosestrife).

Among the trees near the pond there is a magnificent specimen of the rare Chestnut-leaved Oak, Quercus castaneifolia, and also a fine young Alder. Efforts continue to get more plants established on the island – an uphill struggle because the birds eat them – but apart from that, the plant cover round the pond is now stable and appropriate in position, size and range of species, thanks to the regular attentions of our volunteers.


Birds

The new island and waterside planting made the pond much more attractive to birds. Swans nested for the first time in 2000, and have done so nearly every year since. Mallards, Coots and Moorhens are also regular breeders, and Egyptian Geese nest nearby and bring their goslings to the pond.

Mandarins (shown left) and Tufted Ducks have both been known to breed. Canada Geese and Black-headed gulls, with the occasional Common Gull (now officially called the Mew Gull), swarm round bird-feeders in winter, and Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls have also been seen. Herons are very often present, and cormorants are now regular. Rarer visitors include Reed Buntings, Grey and Pied Wagtails, and Common Terns which circle the pond in summer with a distinctive light buoyant flight, punctuated with dramatic vertical plunge dives to catch little fish.

There was considerable excitement in 2009 when a pair of Reed Buntings took up residence at the pond in early April, though they sadly left after a week or so, probably finding the reeds too few and the disturbance too great for their liking. Tony Driver captured this typical and engaging photo of the male. They re-appeared in 2010 but did not stay.

A Common Gull (centre) with winter-plumaged Black-headed Gulls at the pond in 2003 when there was temporary fencing to protect new planting.




Repairing damage and keeping the pond looking good

 
This photo shows Paul and Lucas Connolly, two of our valued volunteers, working hard at "Big Tidy-Up" in November 2011.