Day Flying Moths

May 6, 2016

Cinnabar_moth_(Tyria_jacobaeae) s

Cinnabar Moth (credit: Wikipedia)

Peter Martin, President of Fleet Pond Society, writes:

“Although moths are often thought of as dull and uninteresting, there are some moths that fly during the day and they are usually the more colourful ones. One of these, the Cinnabar Moth, was given its name by a Mr. M. Wilkes in 1773 because of its vermillion colouration.

In the field which borders Fleet Pond Nature Reserve, Ragwort plants can normally be found in June and July. The moth lays some 30 – 40 yellow eggs on the underside of the leaves and when the caterpillars emerge they can easily be spotted, as they are often in clusters and have very distinct bright orange and yellow black bands around their bodies. They are very voracious eaters and can totally consume the Ragwort plants.


Flowering Ragwort with Cinnabar moth caterpillars (credit: Wikipedia)

Ragwort contains alkaloid poison when it is dying and it can kill cattle and horses if consumed. At one time, the Cinnabar caterpillars were exported to Australia and New Zealand to eat the Ragwort plants there before they died and could be eaten by the animals. It is surprising that the poisons do not kill the caterpillars, but these are passed on to the moths as cyanide derivatives which deter birds from eating them.

The moths, which have greyish-black forewings with a vermillion line along the leading edges and two spots on the outer-edges, have hind wings that are all vermillion apart from a greyish-black border. If you are walking round the Pond between late May and July, do go into the part of the field nearest the Reserve and you may see these beautiful slow-flying moths or even the very showy caterpillars.

Volunteer Event This Sunday, 8 May

May 4, 2016

There will be a volunteer event at Fleet Pond this coming Sunday and all are welcome to attend (see below for registering).

Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, writes:

“The task for Sunday 8th May will be bank repairs along the Gelvert Stream. Some of you will need to wear wellies for this one, although bankside work will also be needed.

As usual please meet at the Countryside Workshop at 9.00 a.m. for a 9.15 a.m. start. If you come later, Guildford Road is probably your nearest access point. Straight ahead as you cross the bridge and turn left at the stream.”

For further information and booking for this event (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, Nick Macfarlane, together with members of Fleet Pond Society.

Bluebell Update

May 3, 2016


The bluebell patch at the pond, mentioned in a previous post, has now come out – not quite a ‘sea of blue’ but rather nice anyway! Instructions for finding the area (you will not see it on a standard walk around the Pond) are here.


It’s also interesting to compare and contrast the two bluebell varieties, the native ones (as above) and the so-called Spanish bluebells which are the ones often planted in domestic gardens. See here for some tips.


Building the Chestnut Grove Jetty: 40th Celebrations

April 28, 2016

This year sees the celebration of the 40th birthday of Fleet Pond Society. As part of this we are are having an Exhibition in the Hart Shopping Centre as well as producing occasional articles that illustrate some of the major pieces of work carried out by the Society over this period. A previous article described the creation of the circular route round the pond (see here) and this one describes the building of the familiar and very popular Chestnut Grove jetty.

Cathy Holden writes:

“Along with the circular path, one of the first major tasks undertaken by the volunteers of the new society was the construction of a concrete jetty at Chestnut Grove.

Up to that point there had only been a small jetty created from railway sleepers.

B76 Chest Grove jetty 1

The jetty was constructed using pre-mixed concrete and on the first run 200 sacks were filled by hand from the pile dumped in the road by the mixer.

C77 chestnut 2

The sacks were then lowered into position in the freezing water by Bill Wain and Peter Martin, the only people who owned waders.

C77 chestnut 4

However, by the time the mixer came round with the second load a much more labour efficient system was in place. The sacks were filled with the cement as it came down the shute and the volunteers formed a production line to get them out to Bill and Peter.

C77 chestnut 7

Further concrete was poured into the middle and then levelled out.

C77 chestnut 5

This jetty has been altered over the years to include an extension out to the right. It is still a favourite spot for visitors to feed the swans and other water birds, or just to look out over the Pond.

Chestnut now

With thanks to Peter Martin for the use of his book ‘Fleet Pond Society 1976 – 2006’ for reference. This interesting book is still available from the Society.”

Photos courtesy of the FPS Archives.

FPS at the Hart Centre: 40th Celebration Exhibition

April 26, 2016

Cathy Holden writes:

Fleet Pond Society (FPS) is about to reach its 40th birthday. To celebrate, a display of the pictorial history of the Society will run in the Hart Shopping Centre over three days from Thursday 28 to Saturday 30 April. There will be photos and press cuttings from our very first year up to the current day.

Members will be on hand to answer questions about the Society and its history and, if you are suitably impressed, you will be able to sign up and join FPS in support of our continuing work.

Hart Countryside Service will be manning their own stand. They will have games for children to enjoy, such as colour your own bird glider or make your own butterfly.

We are grateful to the Centre management who have generously allowed the use of the vacant El Giardini area. Displays will be there for all three days during normal opening times of the Shopping Centre.

We look forward to chatting to you.”

An Emerging Sea of Blue

April 24, 2016

2016 Bluebells 3 s

David Pottinger writes:

Earlier in the week I decided to see how the bluebells were doing and to take a few ‘progress’ shots. They’re slowly coming out (above) and the general area is becoming a lush green (below). I’ve written about the volunteering that goes with the bluebells here, this article also explains the interesting differences between the native and Spanish varieties.

2016 Bluebells 2 s

If you take a standard walk around the pond you will not come across the bluebell patch. Instead keep a lookout for the large interesting tree in the picture below (in the region of the picnic area) and go up the incline. At the top you’ll soon come across a pleasing sea of blue!

2016 Bluebells 1 s

Walks, Butterflies and Flowers

April 21, 2016


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

David Pottinger writes:

With the arrival of the (slowly) improving weather, many readers will doubtless be taking walks round the Pond.

Whilst doing this, 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 wildflower photographs are courtesy of Michelle Salter.


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