Phase 1 habitat survey, east Crewe, Cheshire (2014)

This was another site near Crewe needing Phase 1 habitat survey to support a proposed solar farm planning application.  And guess what, more ponds !!  These were rather entertaining as at least half of them were invisible ponds:

invisible pond at crewe east siteCan you see the pond in the picture above ?  It’s there, I promise you, and pretty wet underfoot actually, but it’s invisible because the whole thing is covered with floating sweet-grass so it looks just like the improved grassland around it.  Until you step on it.  And then squelch !  Most ponds can be spotted from the other side of the field but not these – you need to be within a few feet to see the different texture of the vegetation, so I had a really thorough look round the fields on this site to see how many invisible ponds I could find.  I suppose this is swamp, really, from a Phase 1 habitat point of view, but it’s a pond to me as I always have my great crested newt head on when doing an ecological appraisal.  And newts love swampy places – some of the biggest populations I’ve seen have been in ponds completely covered in reedmace.

I found quite a few of these invisible ponds and shallow scrapes which might make for an interesting time of it for the proposed solar farm.  After all, installing a solar array is easy enough on a flat dry field but not so much fun in a swamp.  Hopefully they will be able to arrange the units so as to avoid the soggy parts of the site.  And the mature trees, too, there were some splendid ones here:

crewe east tree.jpg large

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