Fleet Pond Wildlife Open Day A Sunny Success

May 28, 2013
Dipping Platform Opening Ceremony

Dipping Platform Opening Ceremony

Cathy Holden writes:

The sun beamed down on the Fleet Pond Wildlife Open Day as families enjoyed the multitude of activities and walks on offer. These ranged from guided insect walks, to demonstrations of chainsaw artwork – with the chance to part-take of delicious refreshments provided by Odiham Scouts.

Fleet Pond Fish

Fleet Pond Fish

The new dipping platform, sponsored by the Fleet Townswomen’s Guild, and built by volunteers from the Fleet Pond Society was a roaring success.  The platform was officially opened by ladies from the Guild, and for the rest of the day there was a constant stream of adults and children dipping the provided nets into the waters of The Flash.

Dipping Platform in use

Dipping Platform in use

Congratulations to Fleet Pond Ranger, Louise Greenwood, and her colleagues at Hart Countryside Services for organising such a great day – including the weather!

Photo credits: Cathy Holden


Fleet Pond Wildlife Day this Sunday!

May 24, 2013

Fleet Pond Wildlife Day Poster May 2013

There are lots of exciting activities planned for the Fleet Pond Wildlife Day on Sunday 26th May. This free event is open from 10am till 2pm, so drop in anytime!

Fun things to do will include:

  • learning about the amazing wildlife on a guided walk
  • running around and getting messy with games and crafts
  • take a look through telescopes at the Tern island
  • try your hand at pond dipping with the Fleet Pond Society
  • watch the fantastic art of chainsaw carving
  • or sit and have a cup of tea and cake with the Odiham Scouts

In addition, there will be lots of stalls with interesting things to see and do, so why not pop in and try something new?

Find us at Boathouse Corner, which will be signposted from the Main Fleet Pond Car Park and Fleet Train Station.

Are You Interested In Trees?

May 20, 2013

If so, you may want to take part in the OPAL Tree Health Survey:

Trees are vital – bringing nature into urban areas, supporting the rural economy, providing food and habitats for wildlife, and helping to combat climate change.

However, our trees are under threat. The number of pests and diseases attacking them has increased in the last few years.

The government has already stepped up its activity to protect trees, and you can help too, by taking part in the OPAL tree health survey, designed in collaboration with Forest Research and FERA.

The best time to do this survey is from May to late September.

Here’s some background on the nationwide OPAL project:

The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network is an exciting initiative that is open to anyone with an interest in nature.

We aim to create and inspire a new generation of nature-lovers by getting people to explore, study, enjoy and protect their local environment. In 2007 OPAL received a grant of £11.75 million from the Big Lottery Fund.

The benefits of OPAL have previously featured on this blog as University College London (UCL) have done fundamental work on illuminating the silt problem at the pond. They also participated in the large Biodiversity Day event held in 2010 and organised by Jim Storey.

See also here: Do You Know Your Trees?

Walks And Fun Activities For Wildlife Day – 26 May

May 15, 2013

We’ve already advertised many of the fun activities for Fleet Pond Wildlife Day to be held on Sunday 26 May (10am – 2pm).

To add to this, here’s a list of the FREE guided walks and activities that will be available during the day:

10:30am Tree walk
11:00am Parachute games
11:30am Reptile walk
12:00pm Bug hunting
12:30pm Bird walk
13:00pm Parachute games
13:30pm Bug hunting

If you would like to take part in any of the above walks, please book at the Hart Countryside gazebo at Boathouse Corner (see map on About page above). The gazebo will be sign posted from Fleet Station and also the main car park (off Cove Road).

There will be only 20 places per walk, so please get in early!

May Wildflower Watch – Wood Sorrel

May 12, 2013
Wood sorrel along Gelvert Steam by Sandy Bay

Wood sorrel along Gelvert Steam by Sandy Bay

Michelle Salter writes:

Like many other plants, the flowers of Wood sorrel have been late in making an appearance this year. But they are worth the wait, and the pretty white flowers and clover-shaped leaves are currently on display in large clumps alongside the footpath leading to Sandy Bay.

In 2009, I wrote a post called Wood Sorrel, the Easter flower and in that year the flowers bloomed in early April, which would be the usual time to see them blossom.

Wood sorrel is a joy to photograph in indirect sunlight as the flowers open up to reveal five purple-veined white petals. The flowers close as light fades and the distinctive three-part leaves, which open out flat during the day, fold up on themselves at night.

Wood sorrel is a shade-loving plant and can grow in locations that have only one percent daylight.

Wood sorrel on Gelvert Stream bank

Wood sorrel on Gelvert Stream bank

Photo credits: Michelle Salter

Sunday Volunteer Task – 12 May

May 10, 2013

The task for the 12th May will be to continue to collect cut material from around the nature reserve to be moved to Boathouse Corner and from there out to the islands.

As well as our regular volunteers, we will be joined by HSBC staff and also some scouts.

HSBC have helped out at the pond before – see here.

Please meet at the Countryside Workshop to leave at 9.15 a.m. or follow the signposted directions from there if you come a little later.

Full details of the Sunday volunteer events can be found here, including the schedule up to June 2013.

All new volunteers are very welcome!

Here are some photos from the preceding task carried out in April:


Preparing to set off for a nearby island


Collecting cuttings, and volunteers on an island (in the distance)


Everyone returning after an interesting morning’s work!

Warning – Possible Caterpillar Attack!

May 8, 2013


Peter Martin writes:

“Beware! Warm weather has encouraged caterpillars of the Oak Processionary moth to emerge from their eggs. Each caterpillar has around 63,000 hairs, some of which can be blown in clouds by the wind, causing serious irritation to the eyes, lungs and skin. In some circumstances, they could even kill by triggering asthmatic attacks and severe allergic reactions.

The caterpillars make white nests the size of a tennis ball in oak trees and, being voracious eaters, very quickly strip the trees of their leaves, before moving on to the next tree for a repeat performance. After pupating in late June or early July, the moths emerge about two weeks later.

Caterpillars have already been spotted in Reading and in the grounds of Bethlem Royal Hospital, Beckenham in south-east London, so they are not far away. The Forestry Commission has issued an alert for South-east England, particularly areas including Bromley, Croydon and parts of Berkshire, asking people to be vigilant. Kew Gardens has even sprayed its oak trees to try and prevent an attack.

Dr. Yvonne Doyle, the London Regional Director of Public Health, has said that anyone who experiences an itchy or painful skin rash, sore throat or irritated eyes after being near oak trees should consult their GP or ring NHS111. Don’t touch the caterpillars and keep well away from them.

If you spot these hairy caterpillars, contact the Forestry Commission for England to let them know the location.”

Further information on this topic (from the Forestry Commission) here.

Picture credit: here.