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Running water for the birds

 
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Rod Neep



Joined: 06 Apr 2009
Posts: 73
Location: Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:43 pm    Post subject: Running water for the birds Reply with quote

In my garden I happen to have two ponds. Water is pumped up from the lower pond to the upper one, and between them is a small waterfall and a stream. Actually, two streams.

I appreciate that not everyone has space for a pond, or has small children around, but streams can still be built without having ponds! And the birds absolutely love them. Furthermore, unlike a bird bath, which constantly needs filling, a stream never runs out of water!

Here is the general view of stream number 1.



This one is an artificial waterfall stream made of concrete, purchased from a garden centre. It is less than three feet long, and about six inches wide, with a fall of about nine inches.


Note how the water comes from under a rock at the top. Just like a spring.

and a couple of close-ups:





The water is less than a 1/8" deep! It just trickles. I have placed a few pebbles in there to disrupt the flow. Note also that although it is through a small flower bed, I have left the old beech leaves covering the soil. The birds just love turning leaves over to find insects beneath them. This little stream acts not only as a constant supply of water all year round, but it is shallow enough for even the smallest birds to bathe. They love it.

Making a stream like this is really easy. You place it quite close to the house (to get electricity for the pump). If your garden is flat, then simply make a mound about nine inches high (but don't pile earth up against the house wall). Bed the artificial waterfall into the mound, and at the lower end, dig a hole in the ground for a large bucket. The pump sits submerged in the bucket, and a pipe runs from it buried in the earth mound up to the top of the waterfall. At the top of the waterfall, the pipe exit is hidden under a flat stone or a group of stones. The effect is like a spring. The bucket is covered with a paving slab or stone. It needs to be lifted occasionally to clean out the filter in the pump.

Plant little alpines in the earth beside the stream. Add some more pebbles each side, and don't clear up any leaves that fall there in the autumn. They can stay there all year. It just makes the whole thing look more natural and they appeal to the birds.

Steam number 2.

This works on the same princliple as above, and again you don't need a pond. In this case a shallow trough is dug into the ground, and lined with thick strong pond liner, and filled with pebbles. Slope it enough just so that water flows downhill.




Note again that the stream comes from under a stone at the top.

The stream is certainly less than an inch deep. This one has a higher flow rate, and is filled with rounded pebbles. At this time of year I have cut back some of the adjacent plants (small irises and alpines) and so the liner shows a bit, but they will soon grow back. You will also note that I have set the stream diagonally though a brick path. (The structure of old bricks is the back of my barbeque).



Cost of this stream is minimal. A few pounds for a small pump, and a bit of pond liner. Plus a bag of rounded pebbles from the garden centre.

My conservatory is just a couple of yards away from both these streams, and it is lovely to sit and watch the birds come to drink and bathe. Site yours near a window so that you can see the antics of the birds close up.

Oh yes.... and if like me you do have a pond, then make sure that there is a place where birds can get out of it easily!



On the left corner here is a load of weed, and a grass like plant in a submerged bucket. Not only can birds get out easily if they have fallen into the pond (it does happen sometimes!), but I have often seen my blackbirds sitting on the grassy plant bathing. Those plants are also home to thousands of tiny tadpoles at the moment.

Rod
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Martin



Joined: 03 Nov 2005
Posts: 843
Location: Stevenage, Herts

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

looks excellent - thanks for sharing the pictures ! (and inspiration)

I have a reasonable sized pond which is soon to undergo a 'make-over' and I want to incorporate a stream into it somehow, if I can make it look as natural as what you have done I will be chuffed

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Martin
http://the2wrennies.co.uk/
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Strixaluco



Joined: 24 Mar 2005
Posts: 5464
Location: Mayford, Sy

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have a pond with a little"waterfall" - the water is pumped up to a pool, which overflows into another pool, then that overflows back down into the pond. I took lots of photos back in 2002 when it was constructed - how clean and neat it looked back then! (Too clean and neat)?


Pond
Pond
Poster: Strixaluco, viewed 72 Time(s)


A close up of the running water - the birds love it!


Having a bath
Having a bath
Poster: Strixaluco, viewed 85 Time(s)


Unfortunately there is a slight leak in the "stream" area, so we don't run the pump all the time at the moment. Sad

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Elizabeth
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Rod Neep



Joined: 06 Apr 2009
Posts: 73
Location: Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Strixaluco wrote:
Unfortunately there is a slight leak in the "stream" area, so we don't run the pump all the time at the moment. Sad


I know that feeling. There was a period last year when it would run for a few weeks with no problem, and then suddenly the bottom pond would be half empty overnight. Fine again for a few days, and then empty again.

I couldn't find the leak.

I had a theory going that there was an elephant coming to drink from the pond during the night. Laughing

Rod
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Strixaluco



Joined: 24 Mar 2005
Posts: 5464
Location: Mayford, Sy

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rod Neep wrote:

I had a theory going that there was an elephant coming to drink from the pond during the night. Laughing
Rod

I'll go out right away to look for footprints! Rolling Eyes

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Elizabeth
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Strixaluco



Joined: 24 Mar 2005
Posts: 5464
Location: Mayford, Sy

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Running water for the birds Reply with quote

Rod Neep wrote:

Oh yes.... and if like me you do have a pond, then make sure that there is a place where birds can get out of it easily!





Also hedgehogs! Apparently they can swim, but need some means of escape if they do fall in.

Incidentally - I've always thought that goldfish and a wildlife pond are not compatible, because the goldfish eat all the wildlife! Am I wrong here - or is the other pond reserved for wildlife?

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Elizabeth
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davevikingr



Joined: 18 Aug 2008
Posts: 97
Location: Ryedale, North Yorkshire

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am a landscaper who specialises in water-gardens and I must agree - water in a garden, especially running water, is so very vital for wildlife and if you can fit it in you should do so. A small rill or run of water need not be expensive - pond liner is quite cheap for the small amount you need for a rill etc, and a pump would be somewhere in the 30-70 range depending on how far back and up you pump the water. Other than that you only need some stones and gravel and a few choice water-plants and Bob's your whotsit.

I've built water-features ranging from a shallow 3x2' pool through stand-alone water features (such as small fountains) and regular wildlfie ponds in the 12x8' range to a pair of pools about 18' by 12' linked with a 100' stream and a waterfall - so there is no end of choice.

Get a good book, get some inspiration or (if you're in North Yorkshire) get a professional (i.e. me! - I need the money!).
The construction of a water-feature can be learned from a few good books/guides etc - the 'dressing' of it to make it look natural and/or attractive is much trickier - but taking your ispiration from nature is a very good start.
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Rod Neep



Joined: 06 Apr 2009
Posts: 73
Location: Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Incidentally - I've always thought that goldfish and a wildlife pond are not compatible, because the goldfish eat all the wildlife! Am I wrong here - or is the other pond reserved for wildlife?


Both ponds have fish, including three koi. The ponds are teeming with wildlife! Water boatmen skip over the surface. Each summer we see beautiful blue and orange damsel flies emerging and mating, plus the occasional dragon fly. Scooping the weed always results in lots of larvae.

And frogs! They lay their spawn each year and sure, the fish do their best to eat it and the tadpoles, which they are doing right now! But enough always survive.

I'll try to upload a short video of the frog frenzy that happened on March 18th as they were laying spawn. That was quite fun to watch!

HERE YOU GO.... FROGS!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxnZjmnJWTk

Rod
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Emma



Joined: 04 Apr 2005
Posts: 1439
Location: Scottish Borders

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Strixaluco wrote:
Too clean and neat)?



I don't know about *too* clean and neat, but it's exceptionally pretty.
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Strixaluco



Joined: 24 Mar 2005
Posts: 5464
Location: Mayford, Sy

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Emma - the paving slabs are now rather "weathered" (ie dirty) and the small plants in the pebble area at the bottom of the photo have spread some way onto the paving. There are also small plants growing in the cracks between the slabs. Malcolm took quite a few photos the other day, so when he's downloaded them, I'll try to post one or two more.

We tend to go along with the advice given on SpringWatch a few years ago - "Say YES to mess". Laughing In the autumn we don't gather up the fallen leaves so the birds can enjoy rooting amongst them to find the insects hiding there, and I'm not too bothered about the mess under the hanging feeders. We also have a patch of bare earth under one of the feeder poles, which used to have a low shrub in it - but I was forever finding the cat from next door lurking under it, so it had to go. We were wondering whether to grass it over (it's att the corner of the lawn) - but the birds enjoyed it so much that we left it, and I scatter seed, oats and chopped peanuts on it each day. It looks deadful though!!

I have a neighbour who has a lovely garden, with lots of colourful patio pots all over the place - when I commented on how attractive it looked compared with ours, she made a lovely remark - "The birds are the flowers of your garden"! Very Happy

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Elizabeth
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Neil



Joined: 30 Mar 2007
Posts: 107
Location: Staffs

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree ponds are excellent for wildlife, i used to have one but when the grandchildren came along i felt it was a bit to risky (4ft deep) so i filled it in and went for the next best thing a water feature.

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But i soon realised it was useless for birds so i decided to make my own from recycled railway sleepers and copper (arghhh you say creosote, it's ok everything is fibreglassed to stop contamination Very Happy)

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i finished it recently and the birds seem to enjoy it a Robin in particluar.
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Rod Neep



Joined: 06 Apr 2009
Posts: 73
Location: Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a nice one Neil...

Food for thought there. You have given me some more ideas! Very Happy

Rod
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