Mackenzie Smith Raise Funds For The Pond

April 17, 2015

2015-04-08_Certificate 2From L to R: Colin Gray of FPS with Roxanne Lewington, Tara Skinner and Graham Tufnell of Mackenzie Smith

David Pottinger writes:

In previous posts (eg here), we have mentioned that Roxanne Lewington and Tara Skinner of the Mackenzie Smith Estate Agency had decided to enter the Fleet Half Marathon this year and that they had chosen Fleet Pond Society (FPS) as the receiving charity.

After many hours of gruelling training, we’re happy to say the Roxanne and Tara successfully completed the event on Sunday 22 March. As a result, £471 has been raised by donations (£559 incl. Gift Aid) to support the Clearwater Campaign at the Pond.

In appreciation of all the effort involved, Colin Gray, Cathy Holden and myself visited their Fleet High Street Office recently to meet the runners personally and for Colin, Chairman of FPS, to present a certificate of thanks (please see the photo above).

On the Mackenzie Smith blog, Roxanne writes (see here):

“It was a wonderful event to take part in, I’m so pleased we did it and so pleased we managed to raise more than we had expected. A medal from the event and now this certificate and some chocolates, it definitely has been a rewarding experience!”

Once again, many thanks to Mackenzie Smith for supporting the upkeep of Fleet Pond.

Volunteer Event This Sunday, 12 April

April 9, 2015

Sunday Events Schedule Feb Jun 2015With the advent of the better weather, why not consider coming along to our volunteer event this Sunday, or perhaps a future one?

Describing the task, Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society (FPS), writes:

“Weather looks set fair for this Sunday. Rachel (the Ranger) and I have had a preview inspection and we have drawn up a pick and mix selection of jobs to do, all in and around Brookly Wood.

You will be able to choose from;

  • Clearing back bramble from the footpath around Brookly Wood.
  • Wading into the stream to remove bamboo already cut and cutting back more along the stream bank. A job needing Wellies not waders.
  • Clearing further bamboo invasion from the rear of gardens which is marching out into the wood edge.
  • Digging out a stream relief ditch that has been infilled as a result of heavy vehicle movements by Brookly (aka Monet’s) Bridge.
  • Collecting into black plastic bags a lot of very unpleasant rubbish found in the four stew ponds when the contractors dredged them last month. A smelly job.
  • Removing some daffodil bulbs dumped with garden refuse in the wood. A job for anyone wanting some free daffodils?

You will need wellies if clearing bamboo from Brookly Stream or digging out the relief ditch. I strongly advise bringing insect repellent as the warm weather and damp conditions will see our mosquitos and midges out looking for a feast. Good news for the bats but not such good news for us who feed the insects!

We will set out our centre of operations in Brookly Wood within the beech tree glade and set off in parties from there. Return to the glade for drinks and munchies at 11.00 a.m.”

For further information and booking (which is essential as tools and resources have to be planned beforehand), please contact Hart Countryside Services:

Phone: 01252 623443

The Sunday volunteer tasks are supervised by a Hart Countryside Ranger together with members of Fleet Pond Society.

Keep An Eye Out For Butterflies And Wild Flowers

April 3, 2015


The Butterfly for April, the Brimstone (see picture credit below)

David Pottinger writes:

With the arrival of the improving weather, many readers will doubtless be taking walks round the Pond, especially over the Easter holiday period.

Whilst going round the Pond, it’s interesting to try to identify any butterflies and wildflowers seen along the way. Fortunately, members of Fleet Pond Society (FPS) have written a fascinating series of articles on these topics that you might find interesting and helpful.

Peter Martin, who is the President of FPS, has written quite a few butterfly posts that have proven to be very popular. Here are two examples:

Butterflies Around The Pond – Have You Seen Any?


“Although over 30 different species of butterfly have been recorded at Fleet Pond, some may not be easily seen as they tend to stay in the areas in which they bred.

Westover Road – Speckled Wood: Where the path starts at the end of Westover Road towards Wood Lane there are patches of bramble which, when in flower, provide a good nectar source for the Speckled Wood. This is a butterfly that likes areas dappled with sun and shade and it is most noticeable when settled on bramble with its wings wide open. As it has several generations, it can be seen from March until September.”

Butterflies At The Pond – 2013

Extract (Butterfly Of The Month: April – The Brimstone; see picture at the top):

“The Brimstone butterfly is regarded as the “harbinger of spring”, as the male is so noticeable due to its “brimstone” colouring when it flies strongly after its winter hibernation. Females are a more whitish-green and are, therefore, often mistaken for Large White butterflies.”

In addition, Michelle Salter, who is the Secretary of FPS, has written a wonderfully illustrated series of articles on some of the wildflowers that can be seen around the Pond at different times of the year, see:

Keep An Eye Out For These Attractive Flowers

Marsh Marigold

Marsh Marigold by Hemelite Bay

Here’s an extract (from the post April Wildflower Watch):

“Along the path from Boathouse Corner to Hemelite Bay, you will see the shiny, bright yellow petals of Marsh Marigold bringing bold splashes of colour to the edges of the pond. A member of the buttercup family, this ancient native plant, also known as Kingcups, May-bubbles, and Mollyblobs appears in early spring and is sometimes still in flower late into the summer months. Its sturdy, dark green, heart-shaped leaves offer shelter to frogs and other pond creatures.

Also making an appearance at Hemelite Bay, and on the banks of the smaller pond to the side, is the Cuckoo flower. Commonly known as Lady’s Smock, it has pretty, pink cupped or ‘frocked’ flowers. These pale blooms attract moths and early-flying butterflies such as the Orange-Tip, as well as bees and flies.


Forget-me-not on banks of Brookly Stream

Adding colour to the woods and along the banks of the Brookly Stream are masses of tiny Forget-me-nots. The five sky-blue petals of the Forget-me-not fuse at the base to form a very narrow tube and the five yellow scales form a ring at the entrance of this tube. The golden colour in the centre of the flower attracts pollinating insects and is a nectar source for early solitary bees.”

Picture credits:

Common brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) male in flight” by Charlesjsharp – own work, from Sharp Photography.

The wild flower photographs are courtesy of Michelle Salter.

Easter Walk At Fleet Pond: 10th and 11th April

March 22, 2015

67864 Easter Walk 2015

The Perils Of Feeding Bread To Ducks

March 21, 2015

David Pottinger writes:

The topic of the perils of feeding bread to ducks has recently been in the news and we’d like to publicise this important subject a bit more widely.

From the BBC Magazine Monitor blog:

It’s a seemingly innocent pastime. But experts warn that feeding ducks bread is not just bad for the bird’s health – it can damage entire ecosystems, says Justin Parkinson.

Throwing crumbs of stale bread in a pond or river is a ritual of family days out dating back to at least the 19th Century. Ducks vie with geese, swans, moorhens, sometimes gulls, for their fill.

It’s long been recognised that a bread-rich diet – particularly processed white bread – can cause wildfowl to become ill and, in some cases, deformed. Now conservationists are warning that undigested bread sinking and rotting can create wider havoc.

The article then goes on to describe these problems in more detail and offers this advice:

But not everyone will want to give up entirely an activity that is popular with children – particularly when it is duckling season.

To prevent excessive build-ups of bread in one area or stretch of water, Richard Bennett (an environment manager with the Canal and River Trust) recommends dropping only part of the intended feed at one point, then walking 50 metres along the bank or towpath before doing so again. This ensures more than one wildfowl family gets a meal and reduces unnecessary concentrations of algae, bacteria and bird waste.

“Feeding birds is something that people have done for generations and we definitely don’t want to discourage that,” says Bennett. “But we have to think about how we do it.”

And from The Guardian, on the same topic, and quoting Peter Birch, national environment manager for the Canal and River Trust:

Please come and feed the ducks but do it sensibly so your children and future generations can enjoy it too. The charity is asking the public to make a few simple changes. Bread’s not great for a duck’s health as it’s nothing like their natural diet so don’t overfeed them with large quantities of it.

Try to vary what you give them and swap it for healthier more natural treats like oats, corn, or defrosted frozen peas. And exercise portion control,” he said.

This article also gives a list of foodstuffs safe to give to ducks:

Sfd (Safe for ducks)
Cracked corn
Wheat, barley or similar grains
Rice (cooked or uncooked)
Birdseed (any type or mix)
Grapes (cut in half)
Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook)
Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes
Chopped vegetable trimmings or peels
Duck pellets

Nsfd (Not safe for ducks)
Crackers and biscuits
Sugary food – sweets, chocolate

So, the next time you visit Fleet Pond to feed the ducks and other birds, we’d be grateful if you could bear the above information in mind, they’ll appreciate you for it!

New Video On The Clearwater Campaign

March 15, 2015

Click on the arrow to watch our latest Clearwater Campaign video which gives an update on what has been achieved so far. The YouTube link is here.

John Sutton, who produced the video for Fleet Pond Society, tells us about his interesting background and current conservation and media interests:

“I retired from the Environment Agency last June after 40yrs in the water industry. During that time I worked on fish farms and commercial freshwater fisheries before joining Thames Water Authority (pre-privatisation), then its successors, the National Rivers Authority and the EA.

During that time I also managed ecology and biodiversity teams, but my primary responsibility was implementing our statutory duty to ‘maintain, develop and improve fisheries’. My patch was the Thames catchment, from the river’s source in Gloucestershire to the tideway, its tributaries and any lake, pond or canal in the catchment.

My first contact with Fleet Pond was in the 1980’s. We were asked to help improve water quality by removing bream. We eventually took out over 2 tonnes of this bottom feeding species using large seine nets. But I began to realise that the bream were a symptom of the water quality problem, not the cause. The fine sediment carried into the lake by the Gelvert Stream and nutrients by the Brookly Stream were the main factors influencing Fleet Pond’s ecology.

In the following years I worked closely with Hart DC, English Nature (now Natural England), Fleet Pond Society and Defence Estates to tackle erosion in the Gelvert’s catchment, particularly at Long Valley. More recently I was able to secure significant resources from the Environment Agency’s Water Framework Directive budget to fund the desilting and restoration works on the Pond.

Reporting on environmental incidents such as pollutions, droughts and floods was an important part of my job. I routinely provided interviews and photographs for local media and made a number of short videos to promote EA projects.

When I left the Agency I set up Clearwater Photography UK. Last autumn, at one of the working parties at the lake, Terry Austin asked me to help him produce a video to show FPS supporters what had been achieved in 2014 with their help. Using clips from my own library, along with the great time-lapse sequence of Lions’ View construction filmed by the Fleet Lions, stills of the dipping platform and clips I shot of recent LOSW activities, we put together Clearwater 2.

The first Clearwater video featured none other than Chris Packham, so no pressure! In the event, Cathy Holden did an excellent voiceover, Terry didn’t capsize the boat and the scouts behaved impeccably. Terry is already talking about Clearwater 3, I’m thinking of emigrating!

Seriously, I’ve worked with many voluntary groups in the past and FPS is up there with the best of them. It does a fantastic job in partnership with Hart Countryside Service and is deservedly well respected. I very much hope I can continue to use my experience and knowledge to support a great team. My waders are ready and waiting!”

You can see the first Clearwater video on YouTube here (produced in 2010).

FPS and Fleet Half-Marathon

March 13, 2015


A photo from last year’s Fleet Half-Marathon

David Pottinger writes:

In a previous post I mentioned that Roxanne Lewington and Tara Skinner, from the Fleet-based marketing team at Mackenzie Smith, are busily training for the very popular Fleet Half-Marathon. We’re very grateful that all the monies raised for this event will go to Fleet Pond Society’s Clearwater Campaign.

If you’d like to support Roxanne and Tara, and in so doing help fund improvements at Fleet Pond Nature Reserve, please donate on their Virgin Money Giving page here.

You can read more about this on a recent post on the Mackenzie Smith blog, which includes the following comment from Roxanne:

“I haven’t entered into anything like this for a while, years in fact. The last big physical challenge I can remember is climbing Mt Toubkal in Morocco back in 2009 which was a completely different experience. It’s been tricky to stick to a training regimen but I’m making progress. On the day the energy is going to feel very different to running on my own, with the streets lined at start and finish and with those running around me as examples to spur me on I’m determined to finish the 12 miles.”

Everyone at FPS wishes them both the very best on the day!

Full details of the Fleet Half-Marathon on Sunday 22 March can be found here. Why not come along and cheer the participants on – it’s a really good event!


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