A Typical Sunday Volunteer Event!

December 28, 2008

We’ve had a number of posts advertising the Sunday volunteer events (schedule here), some before and after photo-shots as well as a volunteer spotlight (search this blog for details). In this post, I’ll go through what happened at the event on December 14, as this is fairly typical.

It starts with everyone assembling at the Countryside Workshop, Old Pump House Close (next to 65 Kenilworth Road) at 9.30. Typically about 8-10 people turn up (both sexes and with a wide range of ages). Tools and equipment suitable for the job at hand are loaded on to the tractor trailer and everyone walks to the site (photo above). When there, the team leader describes the purpose of the task, how it’s going to be carried out and also explains the health and safety aspects. For the event on December 14, the trees in the picture below needed to be cut down.


In mid-morning there is a break for coffee, tea or chocolate plus some amazingly good munchies! As this was the last event before Christmas there were some extra celebrations as well (below).


The event ended by either stacking or burning the trees that were chopped down (below).


Volunteering on a Sunday morning may not sound that enticing but if you like being in the fresh air and working within a friendly team for a good common purpose, it’s certainly something that’s worth thinking about and hopefully giving a try!

The next Sunday volunteer event will be on 11th January 2009.


Happy Christmas To All Our Readers!

December 22, 2008


Thanks alot for all the interest you’ve shown in the blog since it started in July this year. We’ve lots of ideas for posts for 2009 that we hope you’ll find interesting, so please stay tuned. Also, if you have any requests for topics, we’d be very happy to hear from you…

Until then, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Flocks of Siskins and Redpolls

December 15, 2008

In a previous post, Joanna described what to see at Fleet Pond during winter including “siskins often flock together with redpolls and these mixed flocks are commonly seen in the areas of wet woodland around the Pond where they feed on the seeds of alder and birch”.


I thought it would be good to have some pictures so that everyone could keep an eye out for them! The siskin is pictured above and the redpoll below.


Picture credits: siskin here and redpoll here.

Ranger’s Notebook – What To See In Winter

December 12, 2008


Above: picture of Fleet Pond iced over!

Joanna Lawrence, the Fleet Pond Ranger, writes:

Winter may seem a rather quiet time in terms of wildlife sightings. Many of the invertebrates around in the summer have now disappeared, as have many of the wildflowers found around the Pond and the summer bird visitors who come to Britain every year. However, there can still be plenty to see at this time of year.

Fleet Pond has always been an excellent place for bird watching and during the winter is maybe the best time for it as without all the tree foliage the birds are much easier to spot! Many species flock together in winter, such as long-tailed tits, siskins, and redwings. Siskins often flock together with redpolls and these mixed flocks are commonly seen in the areas of wet woodland around the Pond where they feed on the seeds of alder and birch. In the early morning or late evenings you may hear the distinctive song of the song thrush or blackbird, and tree creepers and nuthatches can often be seen searching for food on tree trunks. Kingfishers can be seen around Hemelite Bay and up and down the steams that run in to the Pond. These birds are easy to spot by their bright blue plumage as they fly past.

In the early morning or around dusk, you may be lucky enough to catch sight of deer which often graze on the areas of heath or in quiet sections of woodland around the Pond.


Colourful fungi can be found nestled in leaf litter and around trees. Although most species come out in the autumn, some can still be found at this time of year. Some of the most interesting to look at are earth stars (see picture above) , fly agaric (see picture below), puffballs, and shaggy ink caps.


Picture credits: Joanna Lawrence

Minks Don’t Like Swans!

December 12, 2008


Colin Gray writes:
Last week a lady called from Chestnut Grove (in Pondtail, Fleet) to report an injured swan. She said it was badly hurt and bleeding. I took the car there within ten minutes. The swan was in a bad condition as there was a serious wound across the upper back (our equivalent of the shoulder) just behind the neck. The cut looked quite deep and was bleeding. I wrapped it in a sheet, called Swan Lifeline and took it home to put it in the garage where it would be safe from dogs. I was pleased to note that four dog walkers at the jetty were keeping their dogs away from the bird.

The local (Woking) Swan Lifeline vet ambulance arrived and took the swan away for treatment. They asked me to call them in about 3 or 4 days time for a report.

One of the swan’s eyes looked opaque and I wondered if it might be either blind in that eye or have restricted vision. If so it might have hit power or telephone lines which would account for the nature and depth of the wound. The vet’s diagnosis will clarify this.

Update: I called Swan Lifeline yesterday. The vet who examined and treated the swan says there were two bites on the birds back of the kind associated with a mink attack. One bite was quite deep. It has been treated and dressed. The swan is still lethargic but is eating well and they hope for a full recovery. It seems we need to think again about some retribution for the local mink population?

Here is a useful link for information on mink (the above picture is taken from this site).

Something for Xmas – Join Fleet Pond Society!

December 7, 2008


Background to Fleet Pond Society:
Fleet Pond Society (FPS) was formed in 1976 to help maintain Fleet Pond Local Nature Reserve and works in close co-operation with Hart Countryside Services. It is a Registered Charity and its Patron is Chris Packham, the well-known TV-presenter, photographer and author.

The Society runs a wide range of activities including organising volunteer conservation events, guided walks, educational visits to schools, research on environmental and wildlife matters and corporate team building events. The current membership is over 450 (plus one corporate member to date) and the Society maintains both this blog and a web site.

Benefits of Membership:

  • Your support will help preserve Fleet Pond Nature Reserve and give the society a strong voice in matters affecting the nature reserve
  • Receive an attractive and informative newsletter 4 times a year (sample from 2007 here)
  • Eligibility to contribute to the blog and to submit articles for the newsletter – we are always looking for new authors and photographers!

Individual and household membership is £5 per year (plus £1 for postage for postal members) and corporate membership is £35 per year (which has in addition 6 copies of each newsletter, a guided walk for staff can be arranged free of charge, a copy of the Fleet Pond booklet and a ‘Wildlife of Fleet Pond ‘ poster).

How To Join:
If you would like to join please complete the attached form (Adobe PDF and Word DOC formats are available) and send it by post or email to the FPS Membership Secretary, Kay Newby:

Email: kay.newby@btinternet.com

Address: 53 Wood Lane, Fleet, Hampshire GU51 3ED

Phone: 01252 624525

Any questions you might have about the pond, the society or membership can be addressed to the Chairman, Colin Gray.

Volunteer Event This Coming Sunday!

December 7, 2008

Fleet Pond Society organises and runs a series of volunteer conservation activities at the Pond. The next conservation task is this coming Sunday, December 14.

If you have never been before and fancy trying it, please just turn up (details here) or else give Colin Gray a call on 01252 616183, who will be delighted to provide additional information.

Speaking from personal experience, new volunteers are made very welcome and there is a very nice friendly atmosphere overall. Tools and advice are available – you even get tea/coffee and cakes in the mid-morning break!

Interestingly the volunteers have a very wide range of ages, backgrounds and interests. To give a flavour of this, we will occasionally provide ’spotlights’ on volunteers to explain their motivations for getting involved and what they get out of it.

Hopefully this will be an additional motivation to readers of the blog to come along and give it a go – it’s a very rewarding way of spending a Sunday morning!

Further information on volunteer events and ’spotlight’ volunteers can be found by searching this blog.