David Pottinger writes:
The topic of the perils of feeding bread to ducks has recently been in the news and we’d like to publicise this important subject a bit more widely.
From the BBC Magazine Monitor blog:
It’s a seemingly innocent pastime. But experts warn that feeding ducks bread is not just bad for the bird’s health – it can damage entire ecosystems, says Justin Parkinson.
Throwing crumbs of stale bread in a pond or river is a ritual of family days out dating back to at least the 19th Century. Ducks vie with geese, swans, moorhens, sometimes gulls, for their fill.
It’s long been recognised that a bread-rich diet – particularly processed white bread – can cause wildfowl to become ill and, in some cases, deformed. Now conservationists are warning that undigested bread sinking and rotting can create wider havoc.
The article then goes on to describe these problems in more detail and offers this advice:
But not everyone will want to give up entirely an activity that is popular with children – particularly when it is duckling season.
To prevent excessive build-ups of bread in one area or stretch of water, Richard Bennett (an environment manager with the Canal and River Trust) recommends dropping only part of the intended feed at one point, then walking 50 metres along the bank or towpath before doing so again. This ensures more than one wildfowl family gets a meal and reduces unnecessary concentrations of algae, bacteria and bird waste.
“Feeding birds is something that people have done for generations and we definitely don’t want to discourage that,” says Bennett. “But we have to think about how we do it.”
Please come and feed the ducks but do it sensibly so your children and future generations can enjoy it too. The charity is asking the public to make a few simple changes. Bread’s not great for a duck’s health as it’s nothing like their natural diet so don’t overfeed them with large quantities of it.
Try to vary what you give them and swap it for healthier more natural treats like oats, corn, or defrosted frozen peas. And exercise portion control,” he said.
This article also gives a list of foodstuffs safe to give to ducks:
Sfd (Safe for ducks)
Wheat, barley or similar grains
Rice (cooked or uncooked)
Birdseed (any type or mix)
Grapes (cut in half)
Frozen peas or corn (defrosted, no need to cook)
Chopped lettuce or other greens or salad mixes
Chopped vegetable trimmings or peels
Nsfd (Not safe for ducks)
Crackers and biscuits
Sugary food – sweets, chocolate
So, the next time you visit Fleet Pond to feed the ducks and other birds, we’d be grateful if you could bear the above information in mind, they’ll appreciate you for it!
Click on the arrow to watch our latest Clearwater Campaign video which gives an update on what has been achieved so far. The YouTube link is here.
John Sutton, who produced the video for Fleet Pond Society, tells us about his interesting background and current conservation and media interests:
“I retired from the Environment Agency last June after 40yrs in the water industry. During that time I worked on fish farms and commercial freshwater fisheries before joining Thames Water Authority (pre-privatisation), then its successors, the National Rivers Authority and the EA.
During that time I also managed ecology and biodiversity teams, but my primary responsibility was implementing our statutory duty to ‘maintain, develop and improve fisheries’. My patch was the Thames catchment, from the river’s source in Gloucestershire to the tideway, its tributaries and any lake, pond or canal in the catchment.
My first contact with Fleet Pond was in the 1980’s. We were asked to help improve water quality by removing bream. We eventually took out over 2 tonnes of this bottom feeding species using large seine nets. But I began to realise that the bream were a symptom of the water quality problem, not the cause. The fine sediment carried into the lake by the Gelvert Stream and nutrients by the Brookly Stream were the main factors influencing Fleet Pond’s ecology.
In the following years I worked closely with Hart DC, English Nature (now Natural England), Fleet Pond Society and Defence Estates to tackle erosion in the Gelvert’s catchment, particularly at Long Valley. More recently I was able to secure significant resources from the Environment Agency’s Water Framework Directive budget to fund the desilting and restoration works on the Pond.
Reporting on environmental incidents such as pollutions, droughts and floods was an important part of my job. I routinely provided interviews and photographs for local media and made a number of short videos to promote EA projects.
When I left the Agency I set up Clearwater Photography UK. Last autumn, at one of the working parties at the lake, Terry Austin asked me to help him produce a video to show FPS supporters what had been achieved in 2014 with their help. Using clips from my own library, along with the great time-lapse sequence of Lions’ View construction filmed by the Fleet Lions, stills of the dipping platform and clips I shot of recent LOSW activities, we put together Clearwater 2.
The first Clearwater video featured none other than Chris Packham, so no pressure! In the event, Cathy Holden did an excellent voiceover, Terry didn’t capsize the boat and the scouts behaved impeccably. Terry is already talking about Clearwater 3, I’m thinking of emigrating!
Seriously, I’ve worked with many voluntary groups in the past and FPS is up there with the best of them. It does a fantastic job in partnership with Hart Countryside Service and is deservedly well respected. I very much hope I can continue to use my experience and knowledge to support a great team. My waders are ready and waiting!”
You can see the first Clearwater video on YouTube here (produced in 2010).
A photo from last year’s Fleet Half-Marathon
David Pottinger writes:
In a previous post I mentioned that Roxanne Lewington and Tara Skinner, from the Fleet-based marketing team at Mackenzie Smith, are busily training for the very popular Fleet Half-Marathon. We’re very grateful that all the monies raised for this event will go to Fleet Pond Society’s Clearwater Campaign.
If you’d like to support Roxanne and Tara, and in so doing help fund improvements at Fleet Pond Nature Reserve, please donate on their Virgin Money Giving page here.
You can read more about this on a recent post on the Mackenzie Smith blog, which includes the following comment from Roxanne:
“I haven’t entered into anything like this for a while, years in fact. The last big physical challenge I can remember is climbing Mt Toubkal in Morocco back in 2009 which was a completely different experience. It’s been tricky to stick to a training regimen but I’m making progress. On the day the energy is going to feel very different to running on my own, with the streets lined at start and finish and with those running around me as examples to spur me on I’m determined to finish the 12 miles.”
Everyone at FPS wishes them both the very best on the day!
Full details of the Fleet Half-Marathon on Sunday 22 March can be found here. Why not come along and cheer the participants on – it’s a really good event!
David Pottinger writes:
The results of Fleet Pond Society’s popular Photographic Competition were announced at the FPS AGM on Saturday 21st February. The theme for the competition for 2014 was ‘Fleeting Moments’ and the poster above gives snapshots of the winning and highly commended entries.
The Competition and Rosebowl Winner for 2014 was Terry Austin. Terry is the Deputy Chairman of FPS and is well-known for his many contributions to the conservation of Fleet Pond (see for example here).
Below is a photo from the award ceremony at the AGM.
Regarding the winning photo, please note the following important information:
“Following concerns raised by a number of people, Fleet Pond Society must emphasise that taking photographs of birds on the nest can only be done under license from BTO (British Trust for Ornithology). The photographer must hold a license or be supervised by a license holder. The latter was the case for the photo of the Black-backed gull chick which was photographed as part of the bird ringing exercise on the island set aside for nesting gulls and terns. The chick shown was ringed and returned safely to the nest for the photograph.”
From left to right: David Styler (Secretary of Fleet Lions), Terry Austin (Competition and Rosebowl Winner), Tim Seed (Highly Commended) and Richard Keeley (who was on the panel of judges for the competition and is a member of Farnborough Lions)
The photos below are high resolution versions of the entries by Terry Austin and Liza Toth (please note that these are both rather large files).
The Competition Winner for 2014 was Terry Austin who captured this marvellous moment
A spectacular moment captured by Liza Toth (People’s Choice Winner)
The competition for 2015 will be announced later this year.
You can see the winning entries for the competition from previous years here.
David Pottinger writes:
There will be a volunteer event this Sunday, 8 March at Fleet Pond.
Why not come along for some fresh air and exercise, as well as having the nice feeling that you’re doing something really useful for the local community?
Colin Gray, Chairman of FPS, writes:
“Ranger Rachel has designated stream bank repairs along the Gelvert Stream as the task for 8th March. Those of you with wellies, please wear them as some splashing about in the stream will be required. There will be drier on-bank tasks as well if you do not have wellies.”
For further information and booking (which is essential as tools and resources have to be planned beforehand), please contact Hart Countryside Services:
Phone: 01252 623443
The tasks are supervised by a Hart Countryside Ranger together with members of Fleet Pond Society (FPS).
To get a flavour of our activities, here are some photos from the previous Sunday volunteer event, held on 8 February. As you can see, these events are good fun and quite popular!
Picture credits: Carol Dunford