A Shocking Time For Fish At The Pond

November 30, 2014

Geoff Dee, Committee Member of Fleet Pond Society (FPS), writes:

As part of the Fleet Pond Restoration Project a fish exclusion zone was proposed on the western edge of the pond to the north of the Chestnut Grove landing stage. A permeable curtain is used which allows free flow of water but does not allow fish to enter the zone.

The purpose of the exclusion zone is to allow aquatic plants and zooplankton to grow without fear of predation by fish. (As an experiment wooden frames filled with toilet brushes have been placed in the exclusion zone to provide a safe habitat for the zooplankton to grow and multiply.)

The zooplankton (tiny creatures like daphnia for example) will feed on algae which live suspended in the water, allowing the clarity of the water to improve. Once sunlight can reach the bottom of the lake seeds in the base mud will hopefully germinate and grow into submerged aquatic plants which will increase the oxygen levels in the water and provide food and sanctuary for other aquatic invertebrates.

It is hoped that these will provide a reservoir of vulnerable species which can be used to restock the main pond once the dredging and other works are completed.

The curtaining off of the exclusion zone was completed recently ready for the fish to be removed. A decision had already been taken that the best way to remove the fish would be to use electro-fishing. An experienced crew in a boat dangle anodes in the water and uses a current of between 1 and 5 amps at 150 volts (depending on the conductivity of the water) to attract and temporarily stun the fish which are then carefully removed by another member of the team using a net to transfer them to tanks filled with oxygenated water from the lake. At the end of the exercise these are then relocated into the main body of the pond.

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On a bright and crisp morning in early November the team from the Environment Agency arrived at Chestnut Grove to electro-fish the exclusion zone. Dr. Karen Twine (known in angling circles as the “Barbel Lady” for her research into barbel populations in the River Great Ouse) assisted by Dave Hellard, Andrew Wetherby and Michael Collins loaded up their boat with the necessary equipment and moved into the exclusion zone where they electro-fished for more than two hours, watched from another boat by Terry Austin and myself of FPS.

The catch was not enormous in quantity but included pike, perch, roach and bream.

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Given that the exclusion zone will need to be electro-fished regularly (every year or every other year) this is a long-term project. (At Barton Broad in Norfolk it took about two years to achieve a higher clarity of water.) If the exclusion zone is successful another zone may be created close to Sandy Bay.

For further background watch the video on YouTube as displayed above.

Ed. A version of this article first appeared in the FPS Autumn 2014 Newsletter under the title: ‘Fish Exclusion Zone and Electro-Fishing at Fleet Pond’. The newsletter is available to members of FPS (joining instructions here).

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Bright New Ideas And Fleet Pond

November 26, 2014

Tom Hardless at work, including some shots featuring Fleet Pond

From GetHampshire:

A Fleet fashionista has become a viral success, with a video in which he features racking up more than half a million YouTube hits since it was posted less than a week ago.

The video captures reactions of traders from the 12 Hour Store where six small businesses had the opportunity to trade on the corner of Oxford Street and South Molton Street in central London for the day in October.

It was part of the Big Things Start Small campaign by smartphone and tablet payment technology firm iZettle.

Tom Hardless, of Iam Vibes, who lives in Fleet, was one of the businesses to trade alongside global retailers in one of the busiest shopping locations in the world.

And at the end of the article:

In another video promoting his business ahead of his day in the 12 Hour Store, Mr Hardless is seen working in the bedroom of his Connaught Road home, on viewing platforms around Fleet Pond and taking fashion shots in the woodland surrounding it.


Blogging About Fleet Pond

November 22, 2014

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David Pottinger writes:

It’s always illuminating to read what others think of Fleet Pond and to hear how they get involved and appreciate it. Recently I came across an interesting post by a local resident, Melissa, who gives her reasons for visiting, and some of the different animals and locations seen:

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been spending an hour or so at the end of each day walking around my neighbouring nature reserve. Fleet Pond is so close and it seems ridiculous that we barely visited when we first moved here years ago. Now, I can’t imagine a day without it. Instead of getting home and immediately vegging out, I take a lovely meditative 2 mile walk, sometimes extending it to 3 or 4 miles over the weekend.

Please take a look at her interesting article for the details (the attractive photos above and below are taken from it).

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The story related in Melissa’s post reminded me a bit of my own situation. Although I live very near the Pond I rarely visited it for quite a while.

However when I had business trips to London I used to walk to the railway station through the nature reserve (at least if it wasn’t raining) and each time I noticed something different, in particular various improvements (better paths etc).

When I decided to work part-time I thought I’d give something back to the local community by joining a voluntary group. Luckily I’d heard about Fleet Pond Society (FPS) and elected to give that a go. I was quite amazed at how much they did and what an inventive group they were.

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Visitors reading the new board at the Lions’ View (both provided by FPS)

Fascinated and surprised that so much was going on (see example picture below), I decided to set up this blog as a way of communicating events and activities at the Pond to as wide an audience as possible. This has paid off as, since starting in July 2008, we’ve had nearly 130,000 views!

Air Ambulance at Sandy Bay

From the first post on this blog in July 2008 – it really happened!

If you’d like to join (and thereby support) FPS, please see here.

If you’d like to get involved as a volunteer, in one way or another, please contact Colin Gray, our Chairman, who would be delighted to hear from you.

Colin’s contact details are:

Phone 01252 616183

Email colin@fleetpondsociety.co.uk

Picture credits (top two): here.


Beaver Colony Visits Fleet Pond, Part Two

November 14, 2014

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It’s hard to keep up when you’re too tall to fit under the obstacles!

In a previous post, Michael Thompson described the exciting time the Beavers had at Fleet Pond Nature Reserve on Saturday 13 September.

In this follow-on post, Michael conveys what they all gained from it.

Please see Part One for details of the set of activities undertaken (the pictures shown here have been selected to give a flavour of the event).

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Seen along the way – for an article on butterflies at the Pond, see here

Michael writes:

Here are a selection of comments from the Beavers and parents:

“I liked the water. I liked walking in it and finding out how deep it is with a stick. I liked looking at the animals in the water.”

“Just to say that he thoroughly enjoyed his time at Fleet Pond last Saturday. He especially loved discovering all the wildlife. Overall the freedom and permission to splash and get mucky ‘from head to toe’ was liberating!!”

“I had one happy but tired girl that day :-)”

“What I liked best was Catching Bugs and seeing a snake !”

“His favourite bit was going into the stream x”

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Michael Thompson talking to the Beavers

and Holly (Helen Anderson), the Beaver Scout Leader of 10th Farnborough, had this to say:

“This was the colonies 8th visit to Fleet Pond over the years but the first time we had joined up with the Fleet Pond Society. The effort that Michael and Colin had put in before and during our visit was phenomenal and ensured that the Beavers had an exciting and educational experience. The pond dipping and stream walking were particular favourites. Just as a result of our visit to Fleet Pond the Beavers gained:

  • 5 x Hikes Away 1 Badges (9 others added another hike towards their Hikes Away 5)
  • 4  x Adventure Activity Badges
  • 4  x Outdoor Challenge Badges
  • 5 x Explore Badges.

We look forward to our next visit”

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Some Beavers tried log rolling!

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Making good use of the walking sticks during the stream walking (see Part One)

Some words of caution:

Our stream walk was very carefully planned and the children supervised by an expert guide to minimise risk to the children, and disturbance to the wildlife.

Children love playing in the water, and we encourage them to experience nature close up, but please be aware of the hazards associated with the water:

  • Don’t go in the pond. The water isn’t very clean and the bottom is dangerously soft, deep mud in many places. It can be difficult and expensive to rescue people (or dogs for that matter) from the pond.
  • The water level in the feeder streams varies from a gentle trickle to a raging torrent. It can change rapidly – particularly after a period of heavy rain or snow melt.
  • Always wear boots to protect your feet when paddling in the water. There can be sharp objects buried in the silt. Volunteers and rangers try to remove all the litter from the streams, but we sometimes we miss bits.
  • There are some nasty bugs in the water, so always wash hands and feet etc. that get wet as soon as possible afterwards. Cover any cuts/grazes with waterproof plasters before going in the water.

Bring a towel and dry shoes and socks to walk home in.

And most importantly, have a fun day out 🙂

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Building sandcastles on water is harder than it looks!

If a similar event would be of interest in the future, please contact Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society. Colin’s contact details are:

Phone: 01252 616183

Email: Colin Gray.


Giving Nature A Home

November 10, 2014

From the RSPB site (here):

“Nature is struggling, but if we all pull together and do small actions for wildlife in our garden and outdoor spaces, we can make a real difference. After all, if there’s no home for nature, there will be no nature.

Request your ‘Give Nature a Home’ guide packed full of simple, fun activities to help wildlife where you live. It’s free and available for download or free postal delivery.”

The direct link for ordering the guide is here.


Sunrise At Fleet Pond

November 9, 2014

Take a look – the wildlife appears after the first minute of the video!

This interesting clip was made by a local photographer, John Sutton of Clearwater Photography UK (see also his Wildlife Portfolio on this site).


Beaver Colony Visits Fleet Pond, Part One

November 6, 2014

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Michael Thompson talking to the Beavers (see halfway below)

Michael Thompson writes:

On a warm Saturday afternoon in September, Fleet Pond played host to the 8th annual visit of the 10th Farnborough Beaver Scouts. This year though things were a little bit different.

Fleet Pond Society Chairman Colin Gray and myself had laid on a few special treats as the 14 beavers and 17 supporting entourage went for a hike around the nature reserve. Everyone was given a walking stick to help them on their way, and off we went…

The afternoon began with a picnic lunch atop the recently constructed Lions’ View platform from where the Beavers could see just how far they were going to hike. Well fed and undeterred, we continued…

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It’s surprising how many people can fit on the viewing platform when you pack them in like this

Before long we arrived at Boathouse Corner where some of the Beavers took time to appreciate the new benches installed the day before by the Fleet Pond Society Last of the Summer Wine volunteers:

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While the children watched the ducks, Colin explained a little bit about the history of the pond (see picture below):

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After a brief stop atop the bridge over the outflow to look out at the new islands, we arrived at the pond dipping platform:

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Using nets, trays, magnifiers and identification charts provided by Fleet Pond Society, we set about seeing what we could find in the pond:

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Water snail

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Water scorpion

…and many more creatures that wouldn’t stay still long enough to be photographed.

Some of the locals even popped over to see what we were up to. Next came the 1.5km hike from one end of the reserve to the other. We looked at lots of different habitats on the way and spotted some interesting things:

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Forest of fungi

As it was a warm day and the water level was low, it was safe to explore the Gelvert Stream at water level. I treated the beavers to a short lesson on navigating a watercourse safely:

  • Check how deep it is.
  • Check how solid the bottom is.
  • Check how fast the water is flowing.
  • Check you won’t disturb the wildlife.
  • Check you have an exit route.

Suddenly the walking sticks became really useful (as seen in the picture right at the top of this article). We set off on an adventure down the stream looking at how the water has formed the stream and the plants that grow along its banks on the way. We had agreed with the Rangers not to disturb the fish in the deeper parts, so we climbed out and watched them from the bank instead.

Once we reached the end of the stream, where it opens out into Sandy Bay, we had a bit of time left to play.

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Everyone went for a paddle.

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Building sand castles

Like all good Scouts they came prepared so everyone had dry clothes to go home in:

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There will be a follow-on post to this one shortly, Part Two, that gives some additional photos plus very interesting feedback on the event from the Beavers and their Leaders. Keep an eye out for it!