APS July Meeting 7-16-2018


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In keeping with the last two meetings that were held outdoors, the first at Zilker Botanical Gardens and the second at the AquaDome, the Austin Pond Society held the July Meeting at Mayfield Park, here in Austin.

This is also the same park that the APS has been helping the City of Austin clean and maintain the six ponds that are located there. Now that most of the work is finished at least for this go round,  the Board decided that it would be a good idea to show off just what the Members have accomplished these past few weeks.

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We turned this meeting into a pot luck and the food table was absolutely full up with all kinds of goodies, most of which were home made. Altogether, there were close to forty members that showed up. The Mayfield Gutsch Cottage located on the grounds served as a gathering and eating place to start the evening off before everyone moved outside to explore the grounds and ponds. Most people were impressed with the amount of work performed by the APS volunteers and commented as much. Jeannie, our President was quick to point out to the group the work that the City of Austin had done as their part of the project.

The Peafowls, both cocks and hens put on a great display and serenaded us with their loud squawking. One Peahen was proudly showing off her two babies and walked right up to me as if to say,”Make sure you get a good picture of me and my babies”.

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The first of the two videos is the Business part of the meeting conducted indoors. The quality is not very good due to the poor lighting made worse by the row of windows directly behind the camera which cast big shadows on all of the people assembled there.

The second video is a short one taken outside of the Members as they walked around the ponds.

The next meeting is back indoors at the Zilker Garden Center on August 20th. The Speaker will be Steve from Hill Country Water Gardens. Hope to see you there.

Cleaning the Ponds at Mayfield Park, May 2018


 

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Julie Smith and hers Husband Phillip, along with Cory Ferrier, snuck out as I was getting ready to take the picture of all of them together. Their prerogative of course.

The Austin Pond Society has an ongoing project at Mayfield Park located in the center of Austin. The Park has six large ponds that were in woeful need of a little TLC and the Society decided that it was going to be our project at least for this year to provide a little love and care. Incidentally, note that the center circular pond is surrounded by 4 oval shaped ponds (the petals) along with one hourglass pond that contains a small waterfall (the stem).

Consequently, in cooperation with the City of Austin and with help and advice provided by Shane of Water Garden Gems, members of the Austin Pond Society have met several times to clean the ponds and the City has gone forward and provided additional electricity to operate the new filtering system and additional air systems that are now in all of the ponds.

This past Thursday, May 24 was deemed a pond clean up day or rather evening as several members of the Society showed up to get themselves wet and dirty. Altogether, there were fourteen people providing assistance and doing the grunt work from cleaning the ponds of leaves and debris, to repotting lilies and in the case of Steven, Jeff and Ruben, installing a new floating filtering system in the big pond and getting the pumps to work. To Steven, who is a Master Electrician during the day, this was just up his alley. The rest had different duties spread around the other five ponds. Glen was stuck in the last pond (the stem) for most of the evening, this one having the most leaves and debris in it. He seemed quite happy to be working the pond until he came across a water snake that was nestled in the Iris plants. From that point on, he was shall we say, a little cautious. Says he doesn’t like snakes but there again, not many people do.

As is usual at Mayfield Park, the work was accompanied by both the company and the very loud and raucous cries from the twenty odd Peafowls that reside there. One of them grew very attached to Jeannie’s Lexus and was very busy pecking the bugs off the front of the vehicle. It stayed there for the entire time we were at the Park and no amount of shooing would get it to move.

The APS would like to thank the following members for showing up and giving of their time and efforts. Jeff and Ellen Bennett, Mary Ward, Barbara Lenhardt, Nancy Reinert, Charlie McLear, Cat Bilberry, Anne Clarke, Cory Ferrier, Julie and Phillip Smith and finally Jeannie Ferrier and Steven Monfrini and Ruben Angeles. Me, I was there strictly to record the efforts and almost broke into a sweat a few times as I hustled to record what was going on. Ruben is a City of Austin Employee who is at Mayfield Park full time. Really nice guy to work with.

Jets_BizCard_Austin The evening ended with a veritable feast of Pizza from one of our sponsors. That make for me, six large slices of Pizza in three days which is more than I have eaten in the last ten years although I have to say, it was very enjoyable.

There is still some work to be done both by the City and our volunteers but it will not be until next month. Again, thanks to our members without whom, we could not perform these sort of tasks.

I recorded a movie of the different members all performing their tasks and also put together a slideshow of the still pictures that I took.

Cleaning the Ponds at Mayfield Park May 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Mayfield Park Pond Cleanup May 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 5/29/2018

Two Fish Rescues to Start 2018


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I had calls from a couple of different pond owners who for totally different reasons wanted to close down their ponds. The first call, the owner stated that he had two ponds, one with two goldfish and the other with eight. He needed to find them good homes as the house and one of the ponds was going to be demolished and a new one built in its place.

I was met at the gate by the owner who showed me the ponds, one front and one back. The front pond was about six feet by three feet and contained two goldfish which were very easy to catch. The pond at the rear of the house was a large circular one of about eight feet in diameter with a fountain. This one, we had to pump out in order to catch the ten goldfish. It didn’t take too long and with the owners help, I was quickly on my way. I took these fish to Mayfield Park which was no more than a half mile from where I was.

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The other owner just didn’t want the pond anymore and was getting rid of everything including the Koi and the equipment. He had eight Koi, the biggest around fifteen inches long and all of them were beautifully marked. His pond had fairly large red sandstone rocks which had obviously been put in with a front end loader as they were way too heavy for me to handle and reluctantly, I had to pass them up. The owner was going to fill the pond with them which I thought was a waste but as I couldn’t get them out, there was no other choice.

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I made arrangements to visit him and catch the Koi the first day. I had lots of help from the owner and two other people so the catching went pretty quickly. The pond was around 1500 gallons and I had to pump it down to make it easier to catch the fish. The pond had been professionally built back 2006 as was obvious by the construction. They had dug a deeper middle section which must have been close to four feet. I took the Koi back to my own ponds and put them in the 6000 gallon pond where they joined several other larger koi.

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The next day, I went back to North Austin where the pond was located which incidentally would not show up on my GPS system, to collect the equipment which consisted of a large Sanyo skimmer, a 2000 gph pump, a single grate and netting from the bog, a waterfall and filter box and several pieces of 1-1/2 inch heavy duty flex pipe. It took me a while to dig out the skimmer box and the pipe was also buried but not very deep. With everything loaded, I made my way back home to unload everything.

The rescues were relatively simple and in both cases, the owners were very nice and very helpful.

Written 1/21/2018

The Trails at Mayfield Park Preserve 8-13-2017


DSC_0727-PanoI had an Austin Pond Society meeting scheduled for 3:00 pm this past Sunday which was going to be held at Mayfield Park. Making the most of the moment, so to speak, I arrived a couple of hours early so that I could walk the trails at Mayfield Park Preserve. In my many visits to this Park generally with something related to fish and ponds, I had seen many people drive in to use the trails and wanted to find out for myself.

I  took the time to change into my boots and strapped  on my single camera harness as I only planned on carrying the one camera with the 16-300 lens which is my go to lens for all occasions. After making  sure that I had my water bottle and walking poles I was ready to move. I stopped at the kiosk to take a look at the map and just like the last place, St Edwards Park, this map was also backwards from how I was viewing it. I quickly worked out where I wanted to go and set off down the trail along with several other people including a family who were carrying swimming stuff, towels and floats and the sort of thing one would associate with going to the beach or around here, one of the lakes. They disappeared down the opposite trail to the one that I took (thank goodness) as I strode away on my chosen path.

I wandered around for about an hour and a half exploring many of the trails. There did not seem to be much organization but without a map, which I was not able to locate either at the site or on the web, it was hard to know where to go. Many of the trails were very steep and/or required climbing up or down rock faces more like a rock climbing exercise than a walk on the trails. I have no idea if I covered all of the trails on my side but I switched and took the trail taken by the swimming family.

This trail eventually brought me down to Town Lake but I never did see a spot that the swimming family could hit the water. Of course, I have no idea if I covered all of the trails on this side either and there may be others that I did not see.

I retraced my steps back to the Parking Lot and sat for a while before changing into dry clothes in readiness for the meeting.  The car parked next to me was driven by a young and pretty lady in the skimpiest of bikinis who was very busy first hoisting her float board onto her car and then taking a very long time to tie it down to the roof rack. Her boyfriend was helping her and I was glad when they finally drove off as I was having the hardest time in not staring at her. Interestingly enough, she was not a bit fazed by her almost nakedness and was in no hurry to complete her tasks. I wanted to take pictures but didn’t have the nerve to ask her to pose for me. Maybe because her boyfriend was a lot bigger and younger than me? I am definitely not a prude but it was a bit unnerving (in a good way). Jeez, I gotta be getting bloody old.

The trails are tree covered nearly all of the way so there was a lot of shade. Most were easy walking except where they went up and over the rock face and there they suddenly got very difficult.

Below is a link to the slideshow of the trails.

Trails at Mayfield Park 8-12-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 

Another of some of the views.

Views at Mayfield Park Trails 8-13-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The Ponds at Mayfield Park


DSC_4969-PanoMayfield Park is a nice little city park located off 35th street and is the home of several peacocks (and peahens), ponds, gardens and Nature trails. The gardens are maintained by volunteers several of whom were working this Saturday morning. Many more people were hiking the Nature Trails. It is a popular place for weddings and as it happened,  one of which was due later in the afternoon meaning that we had a deadline to finish our work.  This is the link to the Mayfield Park website.

There are five large ponds and one smaller one. The volunteers from the Pond Society chose one that was obviously in need of cleaning as the project for Saturday, March 11th. Altogether, there were nine people that volunteered their time and braved a cold and pretty wet day. It rained that fine misty stuff that gets you wet without you being aware of it.

I got there around 9:00 am and there were several people already working. Steven had a pump set up and had his waders on and was in the pond lifting out the  heavy lily and iris pots. The first thing I did was to set up the pump that I had brought with me to help lower the water level. Charlie was moving the old pots over to the garage where Jeannie, Julie and BJ were busy emptying them so they could trim the lilies before repotting them. Phillip, Mike and Cory made themselves useful  wheeling barrows full of the waste dirt cut off from the plants and coming back with barrows of repotting dirt. I joined Charlie in dragging the repotted plants back to the pond on a skid contraption that actually worked pretty well on the flagstone. Not quite so good on the grass.

Steven found two turtles and a snake while he was in the pond and he commented that accidentally grabbing the snake gave him a bit of a start. Snakes tend to do that to most people especially when it is unexpected. The pond we were working on holds around 17000 gallons of water so it is pretty big. Mike put on his waders and  jumped into the pond to help Steven place the repotted plants and clean up the debris from the bottom of the pond. After the completion of repotting the lilies and placing them back into the ponds, the two of them spent time netting out the leaves and other trash during which they found six Perch that had been placed in there by persons unknown. They put them in one of the other ponds as the city water that we were using to refill the pond has chlorine in it which is a death sentence to any fish or other aquatics. The turtles were released into the stream that flows at the bottom of the hill and the snake had already made his own way to safety.

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There were a lot of visitors that were in the Park while we were there. The older people use the Park for exercise and whole families came out to enjoy Nature. The younger generation oohed and aahed over the two turtles that were temporarily in a container and the Peacocks were strutting their stuff and kicking up a god awful racket with their calls. They are pretty to look at but can be very annoying with their extremely loud and very unmusical voices. If it wasn’t for the rainy weather, it would have been a real pleasant place to work. We still have one more pond to go so hopefully, the sun will be shining when we get to that one. That is a story for another day…

Below is a slideshow of the some of the views within the Park.

Mayfield Park March 11, 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.