New Flagship pond for York’s Rawcliffe Meadows 2015

3rd November 2015

The creation of a new pond will boost the wildlife of a nationally important Flagship Pond site at Rawcliffe Meadows this week.

On Thursday 5th November a new pond will be dug at Rawcliffe Meadows Flood Basin, part of the Ouse Ings floodplain to the north of the City of York. Freshwater Habitats Trust’s Flagship Ponds project is helping the Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows, who have managed that part of the Ings since late in 1990, to plan and fund the work.

Flagship Ponds are the very best of the UK’s ponds: sites of national importance because of the threatened species or wildlife communities they support. Rawcliffe Meadows was chosen as a Flagship site because of its range of plant, bird and insect life, including the Tansy Beetle, now limited to a few corners of the landscape. The Flagship Pond project is part of the Freshwater Habitat Trust’s work to protect the best habitats, reservoirs of wildlife once much more widespread, from degradation, and thanks to the Heritage Lottery fund, is supporting landowners and community groups across the country to care for our top wildlife ponds.

The first step to helping Friends of Rawcliffe Meadows safeguarding this gem of a wildlife site was to commission Freshwater Ecologist, and longstanding Rawcliffe Meadows pond champion, Martin Hammond, to conduct an in-depth ecological survey of the ponds. He found that many of the ponds supported a diverse community of plants and invertebrates including uncommon and interesting species such as Tubular Water-dropwort, Bladder Sedge and Pink Water-speedwell Weevil. Excitingly, Martin also found signs of Water Vole, one of the UK’s fastest declining mammals.

Ann Hanson of the Yorkshire Mammal Group was called in to carry out a water vole survey, and along with Freshwater Habitats Trust Project Officer Anne Heathcote, a number of  small wooden water vole rafts were pegged out along the ditches and in a couple of the ponds, with the hope that the voles would leave tell-tale signs on them. After a summer of monitoring these rafts, with very little evidence found, Ann was astonished to find in late July a massive latrine (a pile of droppings) on one of the rafts situated in a pond.

The team managing the site decided to take action to support the Water Vole population: a pond close to the voles will be fenced, allowing the tall vegetation that voles need for feeding and shelter to develop. The new pond being dug this week will provide a home for other plants and animals that prefer open, grazed and trampled habitat and won’t be able to use the fenced pond any more.


For interviews and photo opportunities, or to find out more about the project, contact Ann Heathcote on 07939 122595 or