Nick’s Bike Ride – To Liverpool And Back

June 30, 2010
Nick in training
Nick Keeley writes:
When I volunteered to cycle about 500 miles to Liverpool and back to support Fleet Pond Society’s Clearwater Campaign, the summer seemed a long way off. Now, after months of training, I only have a few days to go before I set off on Sunday, 4th July. A map of the intended route is given below.
So far I have raised a few hundred pounds in sponsorship from a small number of very generous donors.  As I will be riding alone and as the spell of fine weather seems to be coming to an end, there may be days when my spirit will flag.  If, however, when I get to my night’s stop, I find that more sponsorship money has come in during the day, this will give me quite a boost and set me up for the next day’s ride.
It is very easy to sponsor me on line, if you have not already done so, please go to
There will be a separate post at the top of this blog (updated daily) that records my progress, so log in on Sunday evening to see how I do on my first day, when I hope to go via Henley-on-Thames and over the Chilterns to Thame.

Nick's Planned Route


Grand Opening Of The New Jetty

June 23, 2010

Celebrating A Brand New Jetty

Cathy Holden writes:

The opening of anything at Fleet Pond is always a chance for celebration and the new jetty recently opened was no exception. The jetty was the brain child of Terry Austin, a member of the Fleet Pond Society Committee and leader of the offshoot volunteers, the ‘Last of the Summer Wine‘ team. Terry, along with Mandy Saxby reads all the dipwells and this jetty will allow them to launch the boats easily to get to the more inaccessible ones.

Trying The Jetty Out!

The wood for the uprights was kindly donated by Fawns Recreational Services of Farnborough and the Fleet Pond Society bought the decking planks.

Mud Everywhere…

The Fleet Pond Rangers were a big part of this project too, digging out all the mud in the first place and hiring and operating the hole boring machine. This hole made placing the uprights in the correct position a much easier job.

Many man hours of work went into this project and the Society is very grateful for the assistance of the Rangers and the ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ team for their hard work in bringing it to completion.

Phill Gower With One Of The Donated Tabards

A very big thank you must also go to Phill Gower of Cove Industries who donated the smart fluorescent green tabards we are all wearing saying ‘Fleet Pond Volunteer’.

Message To Dog Owners At Fleet Pond

June 19, 2010

A recent incident at Fleet Pond has yet again reminded us how important it is that dog owners keep their dogs under proper control.  The latest case was of a dog that caught and killed two very young cygnets.  The owner was dismayed at what the dog had done and apologised for the distress caused to those who saw the incident.  This dog had never shown any inclination to attack and kill anything before and yet two of this year’s young birds now lie dead.

“Under control” means that the dog should be within sight and that the dog will respond promptly to a call to heel.  Very important at all times but especially when the wildlife is raising young.  A dog might seem to the owner as a fun friend, not capable of harming anyone, but any dog is basically a hunter predator whether it be an Alsatian or a miniature poodle.  That is why humans domesticated dogs from the beginning of the human/dog relationship.  They were with us in the hunter role seeking out and bringing down prey.

Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, Colin Gray, who had the sad task of removing the bodies of the latest casualties, said: “Fleet Pond swans are accustomed to being fed at Chestnut Grove and willingly leave the water to take food.  Their young will follow and, although an adult swan will attempt to defend cygnets against a dog, the dog always wins the battle.  It took only a few seconds for this dog to catch and kill before the owner could intervene.”

Colin continued: “We would not wish to insist that all dogs are kept permanently on the lead at Fleet Pond, even it is was possible to enforce such a rule.   Incidents like this latest one clearly show that dog owners must recognise that Fleet Pond is a nature reserve not a public park where a dog can run free without risk to wildlife.  Harming or killing wildlife is breaking the law on a Site of Special Scientific Interest and could attract high fines.”

Fleet Pond Ranger, Joanna Lawrence said: “Dog walkers play an important role in the life of Fleet Pond as they are one of the main site users.  We very much appreciate their vigilance which is especially important at this time of year when there are lots of young wildlife around.  Even a well behaved dog can sometimes go for a young bird or deer etc.  We ask, therefore, that owners keep a close eye on their dogs when around the Pond to avoid any injury to wildlife, or to the dog itself.”

This article can also be found in Get Hampshire.

If you have any comments on this topic, please leave them below.

Come And See The Cows At Wood Lane Heath!

June 17, 2010

Joanna Lawrence writes:

Our cows have once again returned to Wood Lane Heath for the summer.  The three Irish Moiled boys are called Mirror, Milo and Maltloaf and are from Millers Ark Farm.

The purpose of grazing the heath is to keep the Purple Moor grass and scrub under control.  The cows will eat the juicy grass and the fresh green leaves of the young birch saplings which will keep the vegetation sward open and low.  This then allows heather and other heathland plant species, some of which are very rare in Britain, space to grow and flourish.

Members of the public are still allowed through the heath while the cows are here, although dogs should be kept under close control or on a lead.  The cows are very used to people nearby but don’t like to be stroked or patted!  They also have plenty of food to eat so we ask the public not to feed them anything as it could upset their digestive systems.  If the cattle are on the path and you want to pass them, just make them aware of your presence so as not to startle them and they will usually move out of the way or just stare at you in a curious manner!

The cattle are monitored closely by the Rangers and by our volunteer “lookers” who regularly check the general heath of the cows and make sure that they have enough water to drink.  We are very grateful to all our volunteers who keep an eye on the cows.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer looker, please contact our lookers’ co-ordinator:

Vicki Jull via

In the next couple of weeks we expect some more cows to arrive.  These will be grazing the Marsh for the summer and we will post an update on this soon!

By the way, the names and tag numbers are: Mirror (tag number 191), Milo (196) and Meatloaf (197).

Volunteer Event 9 May – Holding Up Banks

June 9, 2010
Bank repairs

Bank repairs

Michelle Salter writes:

The soft earth that forms the banks of the Gelvert Stream has eroded as weather conditions, and dogs scrambling into the water, have caused soil to fall into the stream. This month’s task was to try and patch up one of the largest caverns that’s developed.

With the help of the tractor, we managed to drag a sleeper from further up stream and use it to patch up the lower part of the bank. A couple of posts were then sunk in front of the sleeper to hold it in place. We then gathered some supple willow trees from nearby and weaved them in and out of the posts to form a barrier.

The next task was to fetch a few trailers full of sand from the large pile behind Sandy Bay. This is sand that’s been dredged from the pond and is now being used to repair footpaths and stream banks. We needed plenty to plug the gap behind the willow barrier. Once it had all been pushed down into place, the job was done, and the hole repaired.

The next volunteer work party is on Sunday 13th June and may well entail further stream bank repairs.

Volunteer Event This Sunday!

June 9, 2010

Colin Gray writes:

“The Gelvert Stream banks between the end of the Gelvert Glade boardwalk and Sandy Bay need some repair and tidying.  As this area reduces the distance from a source of back fill sand I think we should tackle this section on Sunday.

The stretch which is reinforced by sleepers needs to be raised with our “hurdle” method to bring it level with the main path.  If we have enough planking (not sure on this point) we could also install dog steps in the badly eroded section.

I have identified some alder we can cut for uprights and sallow for weaving.”

This event will be the last one in the summer season, the first event of the next series will be in September 2010 (a schedule will be published shortly).

Further details on the meeting arrangements for the event can be found here.

Enjoying Biodiversity Day!

June 2, 2010

On Saturday 22 May, International Biodiversity Day was celebrated at Fleet Pond. The weather was luckily excellent! There was a very good turn-out and here are some photos of visitors enjoying the event.

Do You Know Your Trees? Handy info provided by the OPAL project

Joanna Lawrence, the Countryside Ranger for Fleet Pond, gave guided walks around the pond

On the way to see what’s going on at Sandy Bay

Children finding out more about what’s in the pond, helped by their parents

Happy owners of a recently made bird’s box! Everyone distracted by something…

Making a bird’s box – mind your thumbs!

Photos: David Pottinger

Update: Five additional photos from the OPAL stand here, including:

Photo credit: Kevin Whibley.