Five Fascinating Fleet Pond Facts

October 28, 2008

Michelle Salter writes:

How old is the pond? The first clear reference to the pond was in the 14th century, when “the great fishery (of) Fleet Ponds” is referred to in the Rolls of Account of Crondall Manor. By this time, there seems to have been a thriving fishery of considerable importance and two ponds.

Do any museums house records of the pond? Many Victorian naturalists visited Fleet Pond and references to its flora frequently appeared in natural history journals from this era, with herbarium sheets located at the Natural History Museum in Kensington and also at Reading and Oxford.

When was the pond used as an ice rink? In the 1840’s, the South Western Railway ran special excursions to Fleet Pond, including a “Skating Specials” in the Winter.

When was the pond, not a pond? In 1940, the MOD completely drained the pond to stop hostile bombers from using it as a landmark to find the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough (see photo above).

What title did the pond receive in 1951? The pond was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1951 and was one of the first sites in Hampshire to receive this distinction, due to the importance of the lake to waterfowl and the rich aquatic and heathland flora.

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Fishing At Fleet Pond

October 21, 2008

Fleet Pond is the largest fresh water lake in Hampshire and the nature reserve has 54.6 hectares (135 acres) of varied habitats for the enjoyment of the local community. The pond itself occupies about half this area. The picturesque 21.4 hectare (53 acre) water was recorded in Saxon times as “Fugelmere” and supplied fish to the monks of St. Swithins (now the Cathedral) at Winchester.

Unfortunately in the past 25 years Fleet Pond has become very shallow due to large amounts of sand silting it up, with a depth of only 16″ right across the pond. Fishing and boating is allowed during the period between 16th June to 14th March. Fishing is only from 6 swims (namely, particularly good places for fishing) along the railway bank and one at the bottom of Chessnut Grove Rd. All the platforms have recently been given a facelift and provide improved comfort thanks to the Fleet Pond Ranger!.

Typical fish stocks are: perch and hybrids up to 2lbs, tench up to 4lbs, bream up to 5lbs, carp up to 10lbs, roach and rudd up to 11.5 lbs and pike up to 18 lbs.

Picture: Common Carp, credit here.

To fish at Fleet Pond a permit from Hart District Council is required. These are available from the reception desk in The Harlington Centre, or ‘Tackle Up’ on Fleet Road. Also required is an Environment Agency rod licence which is available from the Post Office or the Environment Agency website. Fishing is only from a boat or an approved fishing jetty, site by-laws apply.

The top picture is taken from an article in The Independent in March 2008, which includes the interesting statement that “If your home is where Hart is – well, lucky you. It is a tranquil corner of Hampshire where the statistics suggest that the quality of life is higher than anywhere else in the country”.

Please also see here.


Ranger’s Notebook – Tern Islands

October 20, 2008

Joanna Lawrence, The Fleet Pond Ranger, writes:

Earlier this year, Fleet Pond Society and Hart’s Countryside Service together purchased two tern islands. These artificial islands, made from 100% recycled plastic, provide the terns who visit the Pond with somewhere to nest.


Common terns (pictured above, picture credit here) are summer visitors to Britain and the rest of Europe, spending winters in the tropical regions of West Africa. They arrive here in April to breed, and feed on fish and crustaceans.

The islands at the Pond are filled with gravel which the terns create small depressions in, line with soft material, and lay their eggs. The clear plastic walls around the island prevent any predators getting to the chicks.

The good news is that these islands have already been used this summer by a few pairs of terns, despite only being put out on the Pond in June. This is very encouraging news means that next year we expect even more of these birds to be using the islands to rear their chicks.


An Admiral At The Pond

October 20, 2008

Peter Martin writes:

There was a considerable reduction in the number of butterflies normally seen at Fleet Pond Nature Reserve in 2007. With the cold, dull, wet and windy weather, the number of sightings in 2008 has not been much better. Mid-October has produced a few warm and sunny days, however, resulting in the appearance of a number of Red Admirals (pictured above, picture credit here).

Until recent years the autumn brood was normally killed off by our hard winters but milder weather has enabled some butterflies to survive. Last year, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Branch of “Butterfly Conservation” had records of them being seen in all twelve months of the year, so keep your eyes peeled if you are walking round the Pond and you may see them even during the winter.

Some other members of the Nymphalidae family of butterflies such as the Peacock, Comma and Small Tortoiseshell hibernate during the winter months, but may be encouraged to wake from their slumbers if we get some reasonably warm, sunny days. These and the yellow Brimstone butterflies may also be seen within the Reserve during the winter months.

Peter Martin is the President of The Fleet Pond Society and is a local expert on butterflies. Peter will be providing a series of ‘Butterfly of the Month’ articles from April to September next year.

Further information on butterflies can be found here.


Ranger’s Notebook – Restoration of Habitats

October 14, 2008

Joanna Lawrence, who is the Ranger for Fleet Pond, writes:

Hart Countryside Service has recently been carrying out heathland restoration at Fleet Pond as well as restoring a valuable area of marsh and reedbed. Local Contractors JDB were at the Pond for a week in September carrying out the important work.

Large areas of heathland, marsh and reedbed have been lost at Fleet Pond due to the encroachment of trees and scrub. In the marsh, the restoration process involved getting rid of the dense scrub and then scraping the top layer of soil off to expose the dormant seed bank underneath.

Previous scrapes in the marshes have been very successful with some plant species that have not been seen at Fleet Pond for 30-40 years reappearing. By next spring/summer, this newest area will have more of these important species growing on it, some of which are rare in Britain or are internationally threatened.

Picture: Lesser Water Plantain, one of the rare plants in the pond marshes.

The scraped area on the dry heath will also have new shoots of heather and other heathland plants pushing through the soil by next summer, further extending this valuable and rare habitat.


Fungi Alert! What Is This?

October 14, 2008

Michelle Salter writes:

There is some weird and wonderful fungus to be found nestling in the undergrowth and growing on trees at this time of year. Walking around the pond this afternoon, I noticed lots of small, purple coloured fungi growing amongst the leaf litter, particularly along the path by Coldsteam Wood.

Can anyone identify it?

Michelle is the Secretary of The Fleet Pond Society.

Please use comments box below to provide feedback – we’d like to hear from you!


October 12th – Before and After

October 14, 2008

Pictures taken at the volunteering event for October 2008. Quite a difference!