DEAN GREEN TEAM

Wildlife Conservation Group in the

Forest of Dean

Gloucestershire

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15 April and 4 May 2021

Soudley Ponds

Grid Ref SO662112

 

We were working at Soudley Ponds piling up Western Hemlock into habitat piles and cutting some small stuff to enhance the SSSI and riparian habitat for the White Clawed Crayfish. We were very lucky with the weather as although it was cold to start off with the sun was out and we soon warmed up. We were also slightly sheltered from the strong winds.

The ponds were formerly believed to have been dug in the 18th century to provide water to the furnaces in the Soudley Valley and at the nearby Camp Mill. In fact these would have been fed from the Soudley Brook, and from the Tilting Mill Pool, now in the grounds of the Dean Heritage Centre.

 

The White-clawed crayfish is the UK's only native freshwater crayfish that was once common and widespread in English and Welsh rivers and streams. However, since the 1970s the population has severely declined due to human activities.

The White-clawed crayfish is a bronze-coloured crustacean that obtained its name from the white undersides of its claws.

Adults can reach up to 12cm long and inhabit clear, well oxygenated freshwater streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs.

They seek out small crevices under stones and rocks where they rest during the day and come out at night to forage for food.

White-clawed crayfish are omnivorous, living on a diet of dead organic matter, water plants, carrion, invertebrates and one another.

The team working at Soudley ponds on Thursday 15th April where we were clearing regenerated trees on the SSSI to improve the riparian habitat for white-clawed crayfish.

 

The trees had been cut down beforehand by FE Craftspeople and we were dismantling them and putting them into habitat piles.