Building the Chestnut Grove Jetty: 40th Celebrations

April 28, 2016

This year sees the celebration of the 40th birthday of Fleet Pond Society. As part of this we are are having an Exhibition in the Hart Shopping Centre as well as producing occasional articles that illustrate some of the major pieces of work carried out by the Society over this period. A previous article described the creation of the circular route round the pond (see here) and this one describes the building of the familiar and very popular Chestnut Grove jetty.

Cathy Holden writes:

“Along with the circular path, one of the first major tasks undertaken by the volunteers of the new society was the construction of a concrete jetty at Chestnut Grove.

Up to that point there had only been a small jetty created from railway sleepers.

B76 Chest Grove jetty 1

The jetty was constructed using pre-mixed concrete and on the first run 200 sacks were filled by hand from the pile dumped in the road by the mixer.

C77 chestnut 2

The sacks were then lowered into position in the freezing water by Bill Wain and Peter Martin, the only people who owned waders.

C77 chestnut 4

However, by the time the mixer came round with the second load a much more labour efficient system was in place. The sacks were filled with the cement as it came down the shute and the volunteers formed a production line to get them out to Bill and Peter.

C77 chestnut 7

Further concrete was poured into the middle and then levelled out.

C77 chestnut 5

This jetty has been altered over the years to include an extension out to the right. It is still a favourite spot for visitors to feed the swans and other water birds, or just to look out over the Pond.

Chestnut now

With thanks to Peter Martin for the use of his book ‘Fleet Pond Society 1976 – 2006’ for reference. This interesting book is still available from the Society.”

Photos courtesy of the FPS Archives.

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FPS at the Hart Centre: 40th Celebration Exhibition

April 26, 2016

Cathy Holden writes:

Fleet Pond Society (FPS) is about to reach its 40th birthday. To celebrate, a display of the pictorial history of the Society will run in the Hart Shopping Centre over three days from Thursday 28 to Saturday 30 April. There will be photos and press cuttings from our very first year up to the current day.

Members will be on hand to answer questions about the Society and its history and, if you are suitably impressed, you will be able to sign up and join FPS in support of our continuing work.

Hart Countryside Service will be manning their own stand. They will have games for children to enjoy, such as colour your own bird glider or make your own butterfly.

We are grateful to the Centre management who have generously allowed the use of the vacant El Giardini area. Displays will be there for all three days during normal opening times of the Shopping Centre.

We look forward to chatting to you.”


An Emerging Sea of Blue

April 24, 2016

2016 Bluebells 3 s

David Pottinger writes:

Earlier in the week I decided to see how the bluebells were doing and to take a few ‘progress’ shots. They’re slowly coming out (above) and the general area is becoming a lush green (below). I’ve written about the volunteering that goes with the bluebells here, this article also explains the interesting differences between the native and Spanish varieties.

2016 Bluebells 2 s

If you take a standard walk around the pond you will not come across the bluebell patch. Instead keep a lookout for the large interesting tree in the picture below (in the region of the picnic area) and go up the incline. At the top you’ll soon come across a pleasing sea of blue!

2016 Bluebells 1 s


Walks, Butterflies and Flowers

April 21, 2016

640px-Common_brimstone_butterfly_(Gonepteryx_rhamni)_male_in_flight

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

David Pottinger writes:

With the arrival of the (slowly) improving weather, many readers will doubtless be taking walks round the Pond.

Whilst doing this, 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?

Extract:

“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

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 wildflower photographs are courtesy of Michelle Salter.


Basking in the Sun

April 16, 2016

Fleet Pond Adder

An adder at Fleet Pond (credit: John Sutton)

A few weeks ago there was a brief patch of extremely warm weather. During this period, local photographer John Sutton caught this excellent photo of an adder enjoying the sunshine at the Pond!

From Wildlife Britain:

“Adders can be found all over mainland UK, but not Ireland, and are Scotland’s only native snake, demonstrating that they are the most capable snake in the world at surviving harsh conditions. The snakes do this by hibernating between October and Spring, coming out into the open at different times each year depending on the weather conditions.

Adders can be found in a very wide range of habitats but open ground such as moors and grasslands are a favourite as they are often full of their prey. This liking for open ground is often where they come into contact with humans out walking or working the land. if you go looking for them in the right areas at the right time of day then the adder is not an impossible creature to find, especially when combined with good local knowledge, stealth and patience. Early Spring is a good time to see them if the weather is warm as the males will be out looking for a mate and can often be seen basking in the sunshine on a rock.”


Keep An Eye Out For The Bluebells

April 8, 2016

2016-04-Bluebells Vista s

After the clear up – towards the end of the month this area should be a sea of blue!

David Pottinger writes:

A week ago today, a volunteer team lead by Terry Austin took on the task of clearing out an area at the Pond known for it’s spectacular display of English (native) bluebells. The aim was to remove the mounds of leaves and bracken that had accumulated over the year and to take them away to be burnt.

The bluebells are near the picnic area (see picture above) – why not keep an eye out for them in your walks around the Pond in the coming weeks?

If you have any good photos of the carpet of bluebells, why not send them to me (contact details here) as I’d be happy to consider publishing them on this blog (giving full credit of course). Alternatively, perhaps you could tweet them?

On the topic of native and non-native bluebells, Suzie Hunt at the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust writes:

The UK is an international stronghold for bluebells, with more than a quarter of the world’s population found here. More than that, taking a walk through a sweet-smelling carpet of nodding bluebells is one of the definitive experiences of an English spring, and one that I look forward to every year.

Sadly, our native bluebell is losing ground to an insidious competitor: the Spanish bluebell. Introduced by the Victorians as a garden plant, the Spanish bluebell has made it ‘over the garden wall’ and out into the wild. Here, it crossbreeds with our native plants and produces fertile hybrids with a mix of characteristics.

You can use the information below to help you know what kind of bluebell you are looking at. If you see any of the characteristics of the Spanish bluebell then you are looking at a hybrid.

Native Bluebell

English bluebells. Photo by Philip Precey.

Hyacinthoides non-scripta

  • Distinctive ‘droop’ like the top of a shepherd’s crook
  • Sweet, cool perfume
  • Narrow bell-shaped flowers with rolled back tips
  • Creamy white pollen

Spanish Bluebell

Spanish bluebells. Photo by Richard Burkmar

Hyacinthoides hispanica

  • Upright stems
  • No scent
  • Conical bell-shaped flowers with open tips
  • Blue pollen

2016-04-Bluebells End s

At the end of the task, surveying the results

As you can see, the weather was very pleasant and it was a healthy and rewarding task. If you would like to come along and help us in our volunteer tasks, please contact Colin Gray, who will be happy to provide further details.


Volunteer Event This Sunday, 10 April

April 7, 2016

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:

“This Sunday we will be in Brookly Wood, and the nearest access point is Avondale Road if you do not come to the workshop.

The task will be to remove as many of the non-native species as possible. There are rhododendrons, cherry laurel and bamboo to be tackled. Cut material will be bagged and taken to the workshop yard for disposal.

Waterproof boots should be adequate although some areas are still wet after the recent rains. We will be working in an area where brambles can be damaging to clothes so please be prepared.”

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.