‘If you build it they will come’ is a famous line often misquoted from the film Field of Dreams (it was actually, ‘if you build it he will come’). In this homage to baseball the farmer hears a voice telling him to build a baseball pitch in his cornfield to attract the ghosts of former baseball players who need a chance at redemption.
As a saying it can be applied to wildlife ponds, ‘if you build it (a wildlife pond) they (the wildlife) will come!’ That’s exactly what we have found with our pond here at Scargill. We have water beetles, pond skaters, water boatmen, dragon fly larvae, mayfly, and at least one tadpole. Most excitingly we have three newts. An interesting question is how did the newts find the pond?
Apparently, newts follow the scent of water, or by following the mating calls of common toads.
The pond began life with a team from A Rocha working with the Estate team between the 24-28 May 2021, just over year ago. It was carefully located above the chapel lawn, to be in a flat area, with light and shelter. It has a shallow end so that creatures like hedgehogs coming for a drink can crawl out.
Since the initial work, the pond liner was laid, the pond filled and oxygenating plants like Marsh Marigolds, Water Lilies and others placed in it in pots. There are rocks around some of the plants to provide platforms and shelter. Bees and bumblebees have loved the plants as they have flowered. There are plants around the edge which will trail into the water along with the grass that surrounds the pond which newts also like.
We have called our newts names like Sir Isaac, Olivia, Ron and King Can! A little video is attached of the Scargill newts. We believe they are common or smooth newts. As a Scargill first we led a mindful newt spotting workshop recently.
Trying to spot the amphibians or the other wildlife is a very mindful exercise. Firstly, you must be patient. If you are bored within 30 seconds, then notice the feeling and switch your attention back to the pond. Attention and awareness is a created gift from God with different elements. We can focus our attention on one part of the pond, perhaps one of the plant pots the newt might be sheltering under, a bit like a spotlight of attention. Or you can have a more open awareness where you are openly aware of the whole pond, more like a floodlight of awareness. Your eye will be drawn to any movement, and you will be led back into a focused attention.
If this practice of sustained attention is new to you your mind will wander frequently, taking you out of the present moment and an observant state. You have a beautiful capacity called meta-awareness, where one part of your mind can notice that another part of your mind has wandered. Do notice what your mind has wandered too and bring it back to the pond. With practice this will enable you to learn to both sustain and switch your attention – eventually leading to a capacity to be more deeply attentive – which is life in all its fullness! One of the joys here at Scargill is being part of a community that takes ecology and the care of creation seriously. It was one of the aspects of community life that drew me here. How about you?
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