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Pingo at Thompson Common

1.5 Lost Ponds: Reinstating Ghost Pingos

A rare relict of the last Ice Age, pingos (a specialist form of pond) occur in significant numbers in the Brecks.

Delivery Lead Organisation: Norfolk Wildlife Trust

Project Update

September 2021

On Monday 27th September, the first day of restoring ghost pingo ponds on Thompson Common began The work is being led by Norfolk Wildlife Trust on their newly acquired Watering Farm land, and is supported by Carl Sayer and colleagues from UCL, as well as local Geologist Tim Holt-Wilson, Archaeologist David Robinson and many other skilled volunteers. Pingo ponds were created at the end of the last ice age. As the ice formed, fed by underground uprisings of water, hard lenses of ice were created that pressed into the ground, with soil over the top of them. These eroded to form raised ramparts around the pond. When things warmed up it caused the lenses to melt forming a circular depression filled with water – a pingo pond.

The excavation of the first pingo pond went well and discoveries were found including animal bones and burnt flint. Further investigation will take place to see what seeds and organic matter remain from when the pond was intact.

 

This project aims to map, understand and recreate the ghost pingos lost from the Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers landscape area, enabling species expansion and movement across the countryside.

July 2021

Photo of dog on Pingo ponds

Photo credit: Matt Jones NWT

Water levels are rather high on-site at the moment! If we were simply just digging random new ponds this would be less of an issue, but as we discussed yesterday, this is an experimental project looking to try and restore a pre-existing feature, where we are trying to excavate down to a specific and generally quite shallow sediment layer. In addition, the hope is to log and sample soil profiles as we go along to try and better understand the structure and history of these features. All of this would be impossible in a hole full of water, and while it is this wet pumping is unlikely to help.

 

With the current dry weather and the planned removal of trial dams from the adjacent ditch, the hope is that the site will dry sufficiently to undertake some excavation work towards the end of September.

June 2021

Possible Watering Farm Ghost Pingo

Credit Matt Jones – NWT Living Landscapes Officer

Identification began to look for sites of potential ghost pingos. The above images show the location of a potential ghost pingo which will begin excavation in August this year.

Following exceptionally wet weather, these hollows are holding water, which is encouraging for the project going forward.

Aims/Objectives

The Lost Ponds: Reinstating Ghost Pingos project aims to map, understand and recreate the ghost pingos lost from the Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers landscape area, enabling species expansion and movement across the countryside.

Learning from the project will be disseminated to landowners and others in the region to facilitate future pingo reinstatement.

Summary

A rare relict of the last Ice Age, pingos (a specialist form of pond) occur in significant numbers in the Brecks.

This project will aim to bring 14 lost ‘ghost’ pingos back to life; improve our understanding of pingos through citizen science; and disseminate best practice to ensure effective conservation of this unique resource; better understand the distribution of pingos within the Brecks; demonstrate how to re-instate ghost pingos and share learning related to pingos to a range of audiences.

If you’d like to get involved in this project contact us for more information or to be added to the project mailing list: bfer.admin@suffolk.gov.uk

Resources

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