Fleet Pond Wildlife Day: Saturday 30 May 2015

April 30, 2015

68838 Wildlife Day Poster A4

For a set of pictures from the same event last year, see here. Some examples are given below:

2014-05-31_WD Dipping 2

Pond dipping

2014-05-31_WD Rescue Hedgehog 2

An albino hedgehog


Invasive Non-Native Species Are All Around

April 25, 2015

Chris Packham explains the destructive impact of the American Signal Crayfish, an invasive non-native species (see also below)

David Pottinger writes:

David Buckler, a Committee Member of Fleet Pond Society, recently brought the above video on the American Crayfish to our attention. It’s well worth watching and quite shocking in it’s way. It gives a clear example of the undesirable and major consequences that an invasive alien species can produce if unchecked.

Colin Gray has previously given an overview of invasive species at Fleet Pond, see the article Aliens At The Pond. Here’s some additional information.

In late February Rachel Jones, the Hart Ranger, attended a talk by Glen Skelton of the Surrey Wildlife Trust on invasive species (held at the Basingstoke Canal Visitors Center). Here are some extracts from Rachel’s notes from the talk:

The presentation looked at each invasive species found in the catchment areas and what action was taking place to minimise the threats. Fleet Pond unfortunately has quite a few of the aliens, as do a few other sites that Hart manages.

The main ones that are of interest to Fleet Pond were:

  • New Zealand Pigmy Weed (Crassula helmsii): There are significant areas of it in the Canal not far from the Pond so perhaps this is where it came from. It is troublesome to reduce it.
  • American Crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus): Parts of the River Wey are swarming with these, apparently they eat all the invertebrates and aquatic plants. They also destabilize banks as they burrow holes into the river/stream banks adding to siltation and erosion. The extent of the crayfish population at Fleet Pond is uncertain but it’s a species we must look at given that we want to increase our invertebrate and plant life.
  • American Skunk Cabbage: Even though it is not as widespread as Balsam for example, it is still a challenge to get rid of.
  • Orange Balsam: We are familiar with the Himalayan Balsam that we have in (currently) small amounts in the Brookly area (it is also on some of the other Hart sites). But we need to keep an eye on the Orange Balsam as it is creeping in as well.

Over all, it seems as though there is still no one way of reducing or eradicating these invasive species. Much research is taking place to help get on top of them but this all takes time, particularly with biological control methods.

Others mentioned in the talk & which are a problem in the nearby countryside include:

  • Japanese Knotweed
  • Giant Hogweed
  • Floating Pennywort (River Wey)
  • Water Fern (Farnham Park ponds)
  • Parrots Feather (Church Crookham canal)
  • Quagga Mussel
  • Killer Shrimp.

There is a free home course that is available if anyone would like to help us spot these threats at the Pond, or other sites that link to us or are close by. See: http://www.nonnativespecies.org/elearning/

Finally, the destructive impact of the American Mink (Neovison vison) at the Pond should also be noted.

From the SWT site (see here):


“The American mink is a semi aquatic species of mustelid which is native to North America. It first became established in the UK in the 1950s when animals escaped or were released from fur farms. American mink have adapted well to the UK and are now common and widespread throughout Sussex.

They are one of the few animals which can follow native wetland species such as the kingfisher and the water vole into their burrows and nests, and in some cases they have had a devastating impact on population numbers of these species.”

TripAdvisor And Walks Around The Pond

April 21, 2015

TripAdvisor Pond Walks 2015

David Pottinger writes:

I recently noticed that TripAdvisor has some wonderful reviews of walks around the Pond (see sample screenshot above, click to enlarge).

Take a look here for the full list of comments.

Why not add yours?

For a description of three recommended walks (short, medium and long) that are helpfully identified by colour-coded posts along the way, see here.

Mackenzie Smith Raise Funds For The Pond

April 17, 2015

2015-04-08_Certificate 2From L to R: Colin Gray of FPS with Roxanne Lewington, Tara Skinner and Graham Tufnell of Mackenzie Smith

David Pottinger writes:

In previous posts (eg here), we have mentioned that Roxanne Lewington and Tara Skinner of the Mackenzie Smith Estate Agency had decided to enter the Fleet Half Marathon this year and that they had chosen Fleet Pond Society (FPS) as the receiving charity.

After many hours of gruelling training, we’re happy to say the Roxanne and Tara successfully completed the event on Sunday 22 March. As a result, £471 has been raised by donations (£559 incl. Gift Aid) to support the Clearwater Campaign at the Pond.

In appreciation of all the effort involved, Colin Gray, Cathy Holden and myself visited their Fleet High Street Office recently to meet the runners personally and for Colin, Chairman of FPS, to present a certificate of thanks (please see the photo above).

On the Mackenzie Smith blog, Roxanne writes (see here):

“It was a wonderful event to take part in, I’m so pleased we did it and so pleased we managed to raise more than we had expected. A medal from the event and now this certificate and some chocolates, it definitely has been a rewarding experience!”

Once again, many thanks to Mackenzie Smith for supporting the upkeep of Fleet Pond.

Volunteer Event This Sunday, 12 April

April 9, 2015

Sunday Events Schedule Feb Jun 2015With the advent of the better weather, why not consider coming along to our volunteer event this Sunday, or perhaps a future one?

Describing the task, Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society (FPS), writes:

“Weather looks set fair for this Sunday. Rachel (the Ranger) and I have had a preview inspection and we have drawn up a pick and mix selection of jobs to do, all in and around Brookly Wood.

You will be able to choose from;

  • Clearing back bramble from the footpath around Brookly Wood.
  • Wading into the stream to remove bamboo already cut and cutting back more along the stream bank. A job needing Wellies not waders.
  • Clearing further bamboo invasion from the rear of gardens which is marching out into the wood edge.
  • Digging out a stream relief ditch that has been infilled as a result of heavy vehicle movements by Brookly (aka Monet’s) Bridge.
  • Collecting into black plastic bags a lot of very unpleasant rubbish found in the four stew ponds when the contractors dredged them last month. A smelly job.
  • Removing some daffodil bulbs dumped with garden refuse in the wood. A job for anyone wanting some free daffodils?

You will need wellies if clearing bamboo from Brookly Stream or digging out the relief ditch. I strongly advise bringing insect repellent as the warm weather and damp conditions will see our mosquitos and midges out looking for a feast. Good news for the bats but not such good news for us who feed the insects!

We will set out our centre of operations in Brookly Wood within the beech tree glade and set off in parties from there. Return to the glade for drinks and munchies at 11.00 a.m.”

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
Email: countryside@hart.gov.uk

The Sunday volunteer tasks are supervised by a Hart Countryside Ranger together with members of Fleet Pond Society.

Keep An Eye Out For Butterflies And Wild Flowers

April 3, 2015


The Butterfly for April, the Brimstone (see picture credit below)

David Pottinger writes:

With the arrival of the improving weather, many readers will doubtless be taking walks round the Pond, especially over the Easter holiday period.

Whilst going round the Pond, it’s interesting to try to identify any butterflies and wildflowers seen along the way. Fortunately, members of Fleet Pond Society (FPS) have written a fascinating series of articles on these topics that you might find interesting and helpful.

Peter Martin, who is the President of FPS, has written quite a few butterfly posts that have proven to be very popular. Here are two examples:

Butterflies Around The Pond – Have You Seen Any?


“Although over 30 different species of butterfly have been recorded at Fleet Pond, some may not be easily seen as they tend to stay in the areas in which they bred.

Westover Road – Speckled Wood: Where the path starts at the end of Westover Road towards Wood Lane there are patches of bramble which, when in flower, provide a good nectar source for the Speckled Wood. This is a butterfly that likes areas dappled with sun and shade and it is most noticeable when settled on bramble with its wings wide open. As it has several generations, it can be seen from March until September.”

Butterflies At The Pond – 2013

Extract (Butterfly Of The Month: April – The Brimstone; see picture at the top):

“The Brimstone butterfly is regarded as the “harbinger of spring”, as the male is so noticeable due to its “brimstone” colouring when it flies strongly after its winter hibernation. Females are a more whitish-green and are, therefore, often mistaken for Large White butterflies.”

In addition, Michelle Salter, who is the Secretary of FPS, has written a wonderfully illustrated series of articles on some of the wildflowers that can be seen around the Pond at different times of the year, see:

Keep An Eye Out For These Attractive Flowers

Marsh Marigold

Marsh Marigold by Hemelite Bay

Here’s an extract (from the post April Wildflower Watch):

“Along the path from Boathouse Corner to Hemelite Bay, you will see the shiny, bright yellow petals of Marsh Marigold bringing bold splashes of colour to the edges of the pond. A member of the buttercup family, this ancient native plant, also known as Kingcups, May-bubbles, and Mollyblobs appears in early spring and is sometimes still in flower late into the summer months. Its sturdy, dark green, heart-shaped leaves offer shelter to frogs and other pond creatures.

Also making an appearance at Hemelite Bay, and on the banks of the smaller pond to the side, is the Cuckoo flower. Commonly known as Lady’s Smock, it has pretty, pink cupped or ‘frocked’ flowers. These pale blooms attract moths and early-flying butterflies such as the Orange-Tip, as well as bees and flies.


Forget-me-not on banks of Brookly Stream

Adding colour to the woods and along the banks of the Brookly Stream are masses of tiny Forget-me-nots. The five sky-blue petals of the Forget-me-not fuse at the base to form a very narrow tube and the five yellow scales form a ring at the entrance of this tube. The golden colour in the centre of the flower attracts pollinating insects and is a nectar source for early solitary bees.”

Picture credits:

Common brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) male in flight” by Charlesjsharp – own work, from Sharp Photography.

The wild flower photographs are courtesy of Michelle Salter.