A Great New Web Site for FPS, Come and Visit!

October 30, 2015

FPS Web Site 2015

Screenshot from the very attractive new FPS web site

The Fleet Pond Society Committee is excited to announce the launch of their new, fully interactive website here.

The Society’s fortieth birthday approaches in 2016 and the Committee understands the importance of looking to the future as well as reflecting on the past. With this in mind the new site is packed full of information about the Fleet Pond Nature Reserve and the Society, as well as links to associate sites.

Go ahead and visit it today to find out more about the fantastic community asset that is Fleet Pond Nature Reserve.


Fundraising for FPS and Trekking to Angkor Wat

October 27, 2015


An aerial view of Angkor Wat

Mandy Saxby, a Committee Member of Fleet Pond Society (FPS), writes:

“In November, I will be trekking in Cambodia to raise funds for Fleet Pond Society’s Clearwater Campaign. I will be walking about 20 kilometers a day for 6 days, through forests, paddy fields and up a small mountain.

This will be with a small party of others who will be raising money for their own chosen charities. We start at Siem Reap and walk in a big loop that brings us to our destination of Angkor Wat, somewhere I have always wanted to visit.

Why Fleet Pond Society? I can remember walking round the Pond as a small child and I am now a regular volunteer and committee member. The volunteering started when I responded to the Chairmans’ appeal for someone to take over the dipwell readings.

Dipwells are small plastic tubes with holes all the way up, pushed into the ground, that allow water to collect in so that a water level can be taken. I thought that sounded like something I could do easily and quickly (there are only 9 of them) so offered my services. In fact these dipwells are placed in the centres of some very unfriendly spots in the middle of marshes but I’m still doing it 12 years on!”

If you would like to support Mandy on her trek, which will raise funds for FPS’s Clearwater Campaign, please go to her page on Virgin Money Giving.

From today, there are just 10 days to go!

The Puzzle Of The Fish In The Flash

October 19, 2015

Pond Dipping Practice s

Practising pond dipping at the Pond

David Pottinger writes:

Whilst taking a walk around the Pond the other week, I noticed a mother and her daughter pond dipping from one of the fishing platforms (see picture above). They were practising prior to a school event. She said that they would be using the fishing platform for the dipping itself and then go to the dipping platform proper for observation purposes only, as it was now full of fish! This came as a bit of a surprise to me and I went to take a look and yes, it was certainly full of fish (see picture below)!

Fish in the Flash s

Click image to see the fish in The Flash pool (near the Station)

A few days later I bumped into Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, and told him the story. Interestingly, he said that this filling up with fish had happened previously although they were not sure why. Last year, for instance, they had to take over 5,000 fish out of the comparatively small area as it was getting seriously overcrowded!

Here’s the rather fascinating background story, as related by Colin:

“This (filling up) seems to be a regular occurrence and we are not sure why it happens. Fish are not good at explaining their actions! In December last year (2014) John Sutton called in his old work colleagues from the Environment Agency (EA) because The Flash pool was packed with fish. The EA was concerned that the fish might suffocate in such dense shoals in a very small area of water. The team used a large seine net to trap the fish and all were transferred back to the main pond. 5,000 fish of various sizes, species and ages, but mostly young, were returned to the main pond.

Fish at the Flash 1s

Catching the fish in The Flash pool

Fish can move between the two water bodies by a culvert under the footpath but seem not to move back into the main pond having assembled in very large numbers in The Flash pool. The reason is not clear. We do know that fish will migrate out of the pond using the inflow streams and it might be that these were trying to migrate out into the Hart Brook via the Small Pond on the other side of the railway line.

Fish at the Flash 2s

Fish at the Flash 3s

Transferring the fish back into the main pond

The wide culverts in The Flash are, however, completely blocked and no water can flow in that direction. Thus if they were trying to migrate they were frustrated in the attempt and hence came together in large numbers. One suggestion was that the fish were driven there in an attempt to escape predators like pike and Great Crested Grebe but trapped in The Flash they are easy prey for Kingfishers and Herons, so no escape there. I rather think this idea does not explain quite so many fish however.

We will call in the EA to once again do a rescue. Meanwhile if any pond dipper catches a fish, please put it back in the main pond not into The Flash pool.

As always, there’s more going on at the Pond that you ever realise!

Bees At The Pond

October 10, 2015


A Solitary Bee

Whilst you’re walking round the Pond you might want to keep an eye out for some types of bees that you may not be familiar with!

Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, writes:

Solitary Bees

Did you know that Britain has more than 250 species of native bee? All of these bees play an essential role by pollinating flowers. But these bees are becoming scarce, with fewer wild flowers and suitable nest sites and an increase in pesticide use. Now around 25 per cent of our native bees are listed as endangered species.

Out of these 250 species, over 90% of them are solitary bees. By solitary we mean that a single female, after she emerges from her pupae and is mated by a male, constructs, provisions and lays an egg in each cell in a nest by herself. This in comparison with social (called eusocial) bees like the Bumble Bees, Honey Bees and Stingless Bees, all of whom have a Queen who lays eggs and a number of workers who look after them.

Female solitary bees prepare their own nest in the ground, in cracks or crevices in walls, or in wood. They gather nectar and pollen as food for their own offspring, and provide little or no further care after their eggs are laid.

Solitary bees come in many different sizes, colours and shapes. Common solitary bees are mason bees, miner bees, sweat bees, wool-carding bees and carpenter bees. They vary in colour from basic black to bright metallic green, blue or red. Some solitary bees superficially resemble wasps.

Leafcutting and Mason Bees, collectively called megachilids (pronounced mega kyle’ lids)


Life cycle of the Common Leaf-Cutter Bee

Leafcutter bees nest in soft, rotted wood, thick-stemmed pithy plants such as roses and in similar materials that the bees can easily cut through and excavate. Nest tunnels may extend several inches deep and coarse sawdust is thrown out at the entrance.

After the nest has been produced, leafcutter bees collect fragments of leaves to construct individual nest cells. The bees cut leaves in a very distinctive manner, making a smooth semicircular cut about 3/4-in in diameter from the edge of leaves.

These are carried back to the nest and used to fashion nest cells within the previously constructed tunnels. Each leaf-lined cell is then provisioned with a mixture of nectar and pollen. An egg is then laid and the cell sealed, producing a finished nest cell that somewhat resembles a cigar butt.

A series of closely packed cells are produced in sequence so that a finished nest tunnel may contain a dozen or more cells forming a tube 10cm to 20cm long. The young bees develop and remain within the cells, emerging the next season. Leaf-cutter bees differ from related species in that they collect pollen on their abdomens rather than on their hind legs.

Picture credits: top and bottom.

Ed. This article was first posted in November 2008 and has become one of the most popular ever published on this blog, with views from all over the world!

Volunteer Event This Sunday, 11 October

October 6, 2015


Enjoying some baked potatoes at a previous volunteer event

There will be a volunteer event at Fleet Pond this coming Sunday and all are welcome to attend (see below for registering).

Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, writes:

“There is a lot of cut material that needs to be burned waiting for us on Fugelmere Marsh. That will be our main task for the day. This means that baked potatoes are on the menu and I will obtain these early in the week. There will also be some cutting to do of alder and the new hedge needs a trim. So it could be a busy morning.

The soil conditions should be firm but wet so waterproof boots will probably be OK rather than wellies.

As usual a warm drink will be provided mid-morning but if you need a cold drink please bring your own.”

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.

Details of the programme from September 2015 to March 2016 can be found here.

Five Fascinating Fleet Pond Facts

October 2, 2015


Michelle Salter writes:

How old is the pond? The first clear reference to the pond was in the 14th century, when “the great fishery (of) Fleet Ponds” is referred to in the Rolls of Account of Crondall Manor. By this time, there seems to have been a thriving fishery of considerable importance and two ponds.

Do any museums house records of the pond? Many Victorian naturalists visited Fleet Pond and references to its flora frequently appeared in natural history journals from this era, with herbarium sheets located at the Natural History Museum in Kensington and also at Reading and Oxford.

When was the pond used as an ice rink? In the 1840’s, the South Western Railway ran special excursions to Fleet Pond, including a “Skating Specials” in the Winter.

When was the pond, not a pond? In 1940, the MOD completely drained the pond to stop hostile bombers from using it as a landmark to find the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough (see photo above).

What title did the pond receive in 1951? The pond was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1951 and was one of the first sites in Hampshire to receive this distinction, due to the importance of the lake to waterfowl and the rich aquatic and heathland flora.

Ed. This article is a repost, it was originally published in October 2008.