Pond dipping is a great way to explore a new habitat and the animals and plants that live there.
Gather together a notebook and pencil and if you have them: strainers or dip nets, trays or containers,
ice cube tray or spoons, hand lenses or magnifying glasses, ID guides.
As well as providing a location for your pond dipping, your local Wildlife Trust, RSPB or other nature reserve may have equipment you can borrow for this activity. There are downloadable ID guides, as well as instructions to make your own pond dipping nets, available online from our partners at RSPB
Find a suitable pond to investigate – depending on the terrain and the season, you might need to wear waterproof boots, or old trainers/plimsolls.
- Approach the pond slowly so you don’t scare away the creatures near the water. Look closely and record what creatures you can see. What are they doing? Are any creatures flying over the water? Swimming in the water or moving along the bottom?
- Search plant stems and look under rocks and logs near the water’s edge and record any new finds. You’ll be amazed at the amount of different things you’ll find sharing a home in and around the water.
- Half-fill each tray/container with water from the pond and put them on a flat surface
out of the sun.
- Dip the nets or strainers in the water to try and catch small fish, insects, and other tiny creatures. You will find different creatures by making a figure-of-eight motion just below the surface, or by dipping towards the mud at the bottom.
- Empty whatever you find into the pan or containers – take a closer look with a lens or carefully transfer creatures (with water) into an ice cube tray or lift them in a spoon. Use ID guides to find out what you have caught before recording it, or trying to draw it.
- When you are ready to let everything go, gently lower the containers to the water and let all the creatures swim out.