BATS as well as birds could be affected by proposals to separate the River Wey from Kings Pond in Alton.

The idea, suggested in a draft Kings Pond Management Plan compiled by fisheries specialists Aquamaintain, is under public consultation.

Diana Tennyson, the tree warden co-ordinator on the Medstead, Four Marks and Chawton climate change panel, said: “The county bat recorder advises he has dealt with a number of bat walks recently and that the Daubenton’s bat is confirmed to be present. This bat particularly favours foraging at lakes and ponds.”

While bats at the pond are hibernating at the moment, a diverse bird population is awake and enjoying the water.

Ms Tennyson added: “Kings Pond is a very important wildlife habitat for kingfishers, moorhens, the grey wagtail and other wild birds. In the summer swifts and housemartins can also be seen here – they collect mud from the edges of the pond to make or repair their nests.”

She was able to add more species to the list during her latest visit to the pond on Sunday: “This afternoon I observed a family of swans with three cygnets, a number of mallards, four Canada geese with ‘angel wings’ which presently remain on site as they are unable to fly and migrate, and a grey heron.”

Bread left by visitors has attracted rats and caused the birds to become overweight.

Ms Tennyson said: “One way of dealing with this might be for Alton Town Council to provide bags of bird food suitable for geese, ducks and swans, and thus avoid members of the public bringing bags of bread.

“A duck food table scheme could be introduced with an honesty box to help cover the cost, similar to Alresford. In my view it is impossible to control the number of wild birds using the pond. It is a wildlife habitat.

“I have been in contact with the Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre and am aware they were involved in the 2021 Bioblitz for Kings Pond.

“Biodiversity could be increased on site and this can also be done by installing bat and bird nesting boxes, and a few very simple measures which may not be considered to be as costly as some of the proposals suggested by Aquamaintain.”

Consultation ends on November 27, with drop-in sessions at Kings Pond on Sunday (10am-11am), Wednesday (10am-11am) and November 7 (1pm-2pm), and at Alton Assembly Rooms on November 18 (3pm-7pm) and November 19 (10am-midday).

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