Night time pond dipping
Pond dipping is a great mini adventure at any time of day but especially good after dark. I hadn’t released that pond creatures do most of their fun stuff at night!
There’s an amazing world under the surface of the water and it all comes out to play once the sun goes down…
What is pond dipping?
Pond dipping is a fun and simple activity with kids; dunking nets into the pond to discover what’s living there. A net is great, but if you don’t have one and you’re feeling brave you can use your hands to explore the water and see what you find.
The Woodland Trust have a great guide to making your own pond dipping net here
When to go pond dipping
Pond dipping is good all year round but Spring is a particularly interesting and active time. The newts, frogs, and toads are all heading back to their watery mating-grounds after a winter in the fields and the males prance about showing off to the females. All the bugs and beetles that live in the water are active again and whizzing around.
The evenings still get dark relatively early in Spring so this mini adventure can work before the kid’s bed time.
Where to go pond dipping
If you have a pond in your garden, great!
If you don’t have a garden pond, you could ask neighbours if they’d lend you theirs for the evening. We have some very kind neighbours with a wonderful pond who are happy to let the kids run wild there.
Alternatively, check a map to see where you nearest pond or stream is. Most city parks have water that can be investigated. Nature reserves often have fantastic ponds with pond dipping platforms.
Night time pond dipping
On our night time pond dipping adventure, we saw frogs, toads, diving beetles, plenty of water snails, smooth newts and we saw our first ever Great Crested Newts.
These newts are enormous with a beautiful spotty crest on their backs (the males). Because of declining numbers, they’re heavily protected under UK law. As they are so much harder to see by day, our neighbours hadn’t known that they had a healthy breeding population in their pond!
Things to look for:
- Leeches and red bloodworms are slimy things with no legs
- Water beetles, backswimmers and pond skaters all have six legs while water spiders and water mites have eight legs
- Newts have long bodies, 4 legs and a tail
- Frogs and toads have 4 legs (did you know that frogs hop on the ground and toads crawl or make very small hops?)
- Find a pond, stream, or lake nearby
- Head torch (or a good torch to shine on the pond)
- Pond ID Guide or book. We like using the FSC Guides which have useful identification tips.
- Camera to take photos of what you see (this helps with identifying everything you spotted)
- Bucket and net
*If you spot a Great Crested Newt it’s illegal to disturb them so admire them without touching!