An undisturbed site away from dwellings, farm buildings and roads is by far the best. A pond situated close to an existing roost such as a lake, stands a good chance of attracting some of the local wildfowl for evening time feeding.
If there is a suitable supply of running water and if the ground is suitable, flooding a dammed site is often the easiest way to create a pond. Another method of creating a pond is to excavate using suitable machinery. This can only be done if the water table is near the surface (this can be checked by digging a test hole and observing whether if fills up with water over a short period).
Great care must be taken in deciding on the site for the pond. It is important to ascertain if the creation of this pond will do irreparable damage to existing snipe habitat for example. This is what is known as the “wise use” concept.
It is difficult to be precise on the question of an optimum size for a pond, since ponds of all sizes have varying merits. However, when designing a pond, the general rule should be – make it as large as the ground and finances permit. Very small ponds will often be a waste of time and money. As a rough guideline, we recommend 30m x 30m approximately.
One of the most important aspects of a pond is it shape. A pond with an irregular edge with plenty of bays is essential.
Pond must be shallow in the bays 0.4m going down to 2m in the deep areas. Shallow areas will allow dabbling ducks to feed.
When designing a pond it is very important to make provision for an Island where ducks can rest and preen themselves in safety.
Trees such as alder and willow are very easily sown and are fast growing. They provide insect life and encourage invertebrate life in the water which is of great importance for ducklings. Bramble is very common and fast growing and offers excellent nesting cover.
Common bulrush (seeds eaten by Mallard, good cover value); Reed Grass; Soft Rush; Sedges; Yellow-flag Iris; Marsh Marigold
Mares Tail – seed eaten by Mallard Good cones attracts insect life. Water Crowfoot ditto. Stonewort good in shallow bays.
Duckweed – eaten by mallard.
Frogbit – eaten by mallard
Vegetation and Tree management
By alternating the cutting of willow and alder increases the amount of ground covered and increases the insect life and nesting opportunities. Care should be taken not to allow vegetation to overtake the pond. So trimming back will be required.
Artificial feed in the shallow water will attract ducks into the pond. Grain and potatoes are the most suitable. As a rough guide, a 2 gallon bucket of grain per 100 ducks per day should be sufficient. Over-feeding will result in over fed non flying ducks. Feeding should be regular and late in the day. If there is food left over, cut back immediately as surplus food is money wasted.
Extreme caution is advised when feeding potatoes to ducks, as left over will attract vermin and also can be the source of pollution.
Careful attention should be paid to regular feeding in hard weather. In years past, a temporary ban was put on shooting all wild fowl by the Minister of the day due to hard weather. We urge every sports man or woman to use their own discretion and stop shooting in such weather conditions if they feel it is necessary. The benefit or otherwise will be seen in following years.
Shooting on flight ponds should not be more than once every two weeks. We recommend to start early and finish early so as not to break the habit of the duck flight. It is imperative that a well trained retriever is used for the collection of shot or wounded ducks to ensure that all birds end up on the dinner table. Remember, it is not the size of the “bag” that counts, it is the pleasure of being out.
In some European Countries lead poisoning from ingested spent cartridge shot is known to have caused some duck mortalities. There is a growing international trend to remove the use of lead shot in wetlands as a result. Ireland will also follow this trend when the African Eurasian Migratory Waterfowl Agreement is transposed into Irish law with the passage of the Wildlife Amendment Bill.
The requirement of good Game Management is habitat, food and predator control, in that order. Remove any one of these three elements, and your stock of game is under severe pressure. We urge you to invest some of your time and money in your sport to maintain and improve on those three important factors. We recognise that some have good habitat for upland birds and some have good habitat for water birds. The really lucky ones have both. But spare a thought for the city dwellers or large town dwellers, many of whom are farmers sons or the sons of farmers sons who have lost contact with the “home place” but would dearly love an evening on a duck flight or a day game shooting. We ask club officers to look at their club structure and membership in particular, and hopefully they might have room for this “stranger” who, given a chance, could well turn out to be a model member and a huge asset to the club.
The wildlife and habitat of our countryside is not ours to dispose of as we wish, we are but guardians for future generations.