Skelbrooke Water Vole Pond

Skelbrooke Water Vole Pond

As a conservation organisation, protected species work is one of the most nationally significant and valuable jobs we can undertake. Therefore, when we were asked by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to collaborate on the construction of a large pond designed specifically to provide habitat for the local Water Vole population in Skelbrooke, Doncaster, we couldn’t don our hard hats fast enough.

The site chosen lay next to a stream running through a private field, with the intention being that digging below the water table would allow the pond to fill up naturally.  The final design consisted of two deeper oval areas of pond with an island left in the middle of the larger pond, joined together by a shallow wading-type area suitable for the growth of reeds. This was devised to provide the maximum variety of wetland habitat whilst also being attractive to Water Voles.

With our pond mapped out the digging could commence and over a four day duration our pond was carved out of the earth. The historical importance of the area meant that the site had to be archaeologically surveyed before and during the project, but the only relics found were horse bones and horse shoes; a testament to the field’s agricultural heritage if nothing else. During the dig we were approached daily by interested local people who were pleased to see the field being transformed for the use of an endangered species.

Using a mini-digger to sculpt banks suitable for Water Voles.
The large size and depth of the pond required a large digger and two seven tonne dumper trucks for the majority of the work, the latter of which were driven by Mick and Michael for the extent of the project. A mini-digger was also required to sculpt the crucial shallow sloping sides of the pond designed to inhibit bank collapse and therefore maintain suitable Water Vole habitat.

As predicted, the pond filled with water from the first day and meant that when the pond was suitably shaped there was little more to do except hand over to nature to complete the job. Hopefully this will result in a thriving Water Vole population for Skelbrooke and another important contribution to their protection for Wildbanks Conservation.

An island and shallow wetland area were created to maximise the variety of habitat in the pond.