Pond dipping

Summer holiday guests at Wheatland Farm’s Devon eco lodges can choose pond dipping as their free family activity (direct bookings only). Or have a go yourselves and discover the teeming life in the water!

Pond dipping is best in the big wildlife pond below Balebarn Lodge. You won’t find so much invertebrate life in the fishing pond between Otter Cottage and Balebarn Lodge as the fish tend to eat what’s there. But in the big pond there are some magnificent beasts.

What you find will depend on the time of year. If you want to find the final stages of emperor dragonflies, for example, just before they emerge in May would be a good time to pond dip. Early in the year we have masses of toad and frogspawn, both in the big wildlife pond and in the corner pond of the lodge field. If you’re here in June, rather than pond dip, you might want to watch out for the annual toad and frog exodus. And if you’re here much later in the year you’ll still find the earlier stages of invertebrates in the pond (many flying species spend several years as aquatic larvae) and be able to see the adult dragonflies on the wing right through to October. In summer, watch out for the rather weird water stick insect, which can come out of the water to hunt!

But whatever you take out to examine, just make sure you put everything back!

And please always bear in mind water safety. You are always responsible for the safety of children in your party. Keep your eyes on them too please, not just on the wee beasties! Ask to borrow the buoyancy aids we have for the paddle boards if anyone is likely to go in the water!

A good way to find pond creatures is to dip out a bucket of clean water, then to grab a big handful of weed and shake it in the water to see what comes out. You can also use pond dipping nets or even a plastic sieve to swoosh through the water. We wouldn’t recommend buying kids’ pond dipping nets though. They are never strong enough to last the session and just end up as waste.

To see the pond life you’ve caught it’s best to put the beasties in something with a white bottom. Rather than raid your lodge crockery set, ask us at the Wheatland farmhouse and we’ll lend you a white bucket, and a few things for scooping up your finds.

We’ve sometimes done pond dipping with family groups in place of the full Wheatland Farm guided walk, because it’s easier to involve people with limited mobility. So do say if that suits you.