Creation of permanently covered waterpools
Water pools are as essential a part of the habitat of ducks and amphibians as bog pools are for those of wading birds. The Garganey, northern shoveller and gadwall all build their well concealed nests near these pools and later lead their chicks to them. In order for dabbling ducks to be well-fed, it is essential that these pools have shallow banks. Amphibians also need this last characteristic as they not only like to go into the water but also come back out to reach their winter habitats or daytime hiding places on land, for example. Yes, you read that correctly: all three of our target species – Natterjack toads, pool frogs and great crested newts – spend a good deal of their time out of the water!
The measure also creates retreat areas for some of the Rhine’s fish, who bring juveniles here for safety in receding floodwaters to avoid the larger, predatory species who prefer to remain in the main current rather than following their prey into these smaller pools.
This measure took us to a part or the project area that is predestined for such use. Sandy grooves left by floods of the river Rhine have a water table relatively close to the surface. So why not dig a little deeper just here and open up the sort of pools amphibians dream of and water birds will certainly be happy with?
And so the three planned pools were dug out, moulded and completed in October 2016. While two cover an area around 1500 m² each, the third is more than twice as large. The exceedingly low level of the Rhine helped during the earthworks – afterwards we waited for the water to rise again and make pools of what were no more than puddles at first. In spring 2017 all three had become „real“ waterpools and only a few months later, the first calls of amphibians could be heard in one of them. After the project has ended, we will continue monitoring to find out, when and how the pools are used and populated by our target species in particular.