CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Sussex Life today CLICK HERE

Mike Russell of Sussex Wildlife Trust on the newly refilled pond at Woods Mill

PUBLISHED: 16:22 17 June 2014

Two years ago, Sussex Wildlife Trust decided to drain the pond at the centre of the Woods Mill nature reserve at Henfield.

It was a decision not met with universal approval particularly with the general public. The pond was full of large fish, mainly mirror and common carp, plus a multitude of smaller fish such as rudd and roach with a few tench sprinkled amongst them. This left a pond full of fish with little room left for other wildlife, the carp sucking up much of the submerged vegetation and any aquatic insect life attached to it.

But they were a spectacle; a feeding area by the lake encouraged people to bring loaves of bread which were thrown into the water, producing a bubbling mass of piscean turmoil as the fish devoured the free offering. It was a favourite activity for families, and in the past we ourselves encouraged feeding sessions with visiting school parties. So, explaining to our visitors that we were about to deprive them of one of their favourite reasons for visiting Woods Mill 
was difficult.

Carp are not native to the UK, they were introduced in medieval times as a food source for inland communities and have since become a favourite catch for fishermen. In 1945, the pond was created purely for fishing purposes and a large population of carp was well established by the time the Trust acquired Woods Mill in 1966. Over the years we have made a few attempts to reduce the fish population but the pond was never completely drained and left empty of water for over a year to prevent repopulation. By agreement, all the fish were professionally moved to other lakes.

Last autumn, the pond was allowed to refill naturally which had immediate impact. The first thing we noticed was the clarity of the water. Within just a few days, common and ruddy darter dragonflies began busily laying eggs and many more will survive this summer as the eggs or larvae won’t be eaten by the carp.

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of watching a toad leisurely making its way through the crystal clear water, totally unaware that it was swimming straight towards a grass snake that slithered into the pond on my approach.

Both toad and frogspawn appeared; previously they seldom saw the lake as a good place to deposit their eggs.

We’ve also suddenly acquired many ducks, mainly mallard, but we have had a pair of tufted ducks, very unusual visitors to the reserve. It seems that ducks were unsettled by the presence of so many fish in the water and therefore never established a permanent presence here, but with no fish they feel very comfortable and are able to graze on the emerging and abundant vegetation.

I hope that visitors will recognise the improvements to the pond and its wildlife when they visit this summer and resist feeding the ducks with loaves of bread. They will have a much richer and diverse range of species to enjoy and hopefully understand that sometimes seemingly drastic action has to be taken to create a much better habitat for wildlife to enjoy, consequently bringing greater enjoyment to human visitors as well.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Sussex Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Sussex Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Sussex Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Over the past three years there has been a revolution in Worthing’s restaurant culture

Read more
Yesterday, 16:06

The best Sundays revolve around a hearty lunch with friends and family. We suggest some of the best places to enjoy a Sunday roast around Sussex

Read more
Mon, 14:30

New Street Bar & Grill is the James Bond of casual dining, as we discover

Read more
Mon, 14:02

Treat yourself, family and friends to lunch and afternoon tea with a visit to one of these fantastic Sussex tea rooms

Read more
Mon, 14:00

There’s not much more invigorating than a Sunday stroll across our countryside on a crisp winter afternoon. Here we round up some of our favourite Sussex walks to enjoy this winter

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Sussex this month

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

What could be nicer than a sleepy Sunday afternoon in one of our beautiful Sussex pubs? Here are some of our favourites…

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

With the South Downs, quaint villages and coastal trails, Sussex is a great place for a walk. Here we round up some of the best

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Steeped in history and tradition, this East Sussex town is the perfect place to discover your inner rebel

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

With late-night shopping, fairs, Christmas markets and plenty of food and drink, we’ve rounded up some of the best festive offerings in Sussex

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

With views, cosy pubs, endless walks and lively towns and cities, Sussex is the only place to be during the holiday season

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Not everything is what it seems in the West Sussex town of Petworth as we discover

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Enjoy the tranquility of Verdley Wood on this circular pub walk

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Ideally situated for commuting to London and Brighton, this West Sussex town offers the perfect blend of rural and urban living

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory

Property Search

Most Read

Latest from the Sussex Life