A pond is a fantastic way to keep birds and other wildlife hydrated throughout the year. Garden water features are a great place to stop off and recharge on hot summer days before heading home to roost or to pick up the next meal.
However many creatures depend more deeply on these vital water sources. In fact, according to the Freshwater Habitats Trust up to two thirds of all freshwater species are supported by ponds.
In case you needed enticing even further, we’ve rounded up the top species for you to spot in your very own pond!
1 Common frog
Our favourite pond-side friend: perhaps the UK’s most distinctive and well-loved amphibian, frogs are widespread, with ponds being vital to the survival of frogs and toads in urban areas.
They lay their frogspawn in ponds in late winter and early spring with tadpoles emerging two to four weeks later. Keep compost heaps or log piles close by as these provide excellent hibernation places for frogs once winter hits.
2 Water voles
Fans of Wind in the Willows can attract their very own Ratty. These furry creatures have suffered a severe decline in recent years, but providing ponds with vegetation and steep banks for burrowing can give them a much-needed new home.
Water voles are larger than most people realise, growing up to nine inches in length! Listen for a distinctive ‘plop!’ sound as they drop into the water in search of grass and roots to eat.
These slender darting creatures love to sun themselves, so ensure that your pond gets plenty of light and has shallow water in places in which damselflies can catch their prey.
Although smaller and thinner than dragonflies, the two species can be difficult to distinguish in flight. Tell them apart from dragonflies by the way they rest – damselflies will fold their wings along their body as they perch on a reed or fence post (like this banded demoiselle damselfly), while dragonflies keep theirs out to the side.
4 Smooth newt
Attract smooth newts to your garden with a compost heap for them to sleep in, but also a well-stocked pond. Newts are big fans of water snails, tadpoles and water insects.
Look out for these olive green or pale brown creatures with their bright orange speckled bellies. During the breeding season males will adopt a wavy crest on their backs to make them more attractive to females!
5 Pond skaters
Although these insects are only around 2 cm long, they make a big impact on your pond! With their long spindly legs pond skaters can actually walk on water. They do this by spreading out their surface area, allowing them to sit on top of ponds before they go swimming.
A pond skater stabs their prey with their sharp mouthparts, making meals of tiny insects and frogspawn.
Dragonflies really are the quintessential summer creature. We can’t think of anything better than sitting out by the pond listening to the hum of dragonfly wings beat as they flit from place to place.
Expert fliers, they can pinpoint and grab their prey with exquisite precision. They stay near water for the majority of their lives as their young (nymphs) remain aquatic for several months or even years before they emerge.
If you’re really dedicated to getting a wide variety of animals into your pond and garden it’s important to have a gaps and spaces for them to walk through – by opening up corridors for wildlife, animals like hedgehogs, mice, newts and shrews can pass through easily, creating better access to food and breeding partners.