Flower Spotting At The Pond

March 30, 2017

Cuckoo flower by the Flash

Previously we’ve posted articles that feature some of the wildflowers that can be seen at Fleet Pond during the spring and summer months. Why not keep an eye out for them when you next take a walk around the Pond? There are more that you might realise!

Rowan berries in woodland

Here’s a listing of the articles:

March: Lesser Celandine and the Brookly Stream

April: Marsh Marigold, Cuckoo Flower, Dog-violet & Forget-me-not

May: Bogbean, Garlic Mustard and Skunk Cabbage

June: Yellow Flag Iris, Honeysuckle and Yellow Water-lily

July: Heather, Lichen, Meadowsweet and Yellow Loosestrife

August: Berries, Rosebay Willowherb and Purple Loosestrife

You might also want to take a look at the Species Explorer provided by The Wildlife Trusts.

Bogbean flowers at Hemelite Bay


How Popular Is The Pond?

March 10, 2017

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Graph of Footfall Figures at Fleet Pond for 2016 (Click To Enlarge)

Answer: A lot more than you might imagine!

Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, writes:

“Hart Rangers have provided me with the full year footfall figures for Fleet Pond as recorded at the six monitoring points (see legend on graph above plus map here).

They make interesting reading and there is one oddity and one that bucks the general trend. Most monitor points follow a similar trend over the year, but Coldstream Culvert shows an unusual drop in March, April and June. Boat House track bumbles along as one of the lowest until a sudden increase in September, drops in the next two months and then becomes one of the highest in December.

Picnic entrance is one of the two lowest all year, indicating perhaps that most walkers use the lower track?

What is very clear is the numbers of people using Fleet Pond every month. Back a decade when we had a Farnborough Sixth Form student take a survey over a shorter few months, his figures estimated approximately 4,000 to 5,000 a month in peak months. All but two monitor points show the numbers are now well in excess of that estimate every month.

An  important point to note is that the monitors record every movement past the monitor, so it includes those who walk, jog, run or walk dogs more than once a day or do more than one circuit of the pond. For example a jogger might pass the monitor three or more times in one day. Although these might swell the figures, they do have an impact on the path network, so it makes sense to include them when assessing impact on path maintenance and potential disturbance.

There is no denying just how popular and valuable Fleet Pond is to people and their health.”

You can read the interesting things that visitors say about taking walks around Fleet Pond via TripAdvisor here.


Time Team at the Pond

February 8, 2017

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Cathy Holden writes:

“The ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ volunteer team morphed into the Time Team last Friday as we excavated a WWII site at the Pond. These concrete slabs were placed in situ when the land was owned and used by the military.

From the shape of them, our thoughts are that they were supports for large fuel tanks.

If anyone knows, please share with us.

Unfortunately, we didn’t unearth any interesting artifacts except possibly the remains of their china loo!”

Further fascinating history about Fleet Pond can be found here.

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News and Activities at Fleet Pond (Update 1)

November 16, 2016

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A screenshot of the current home page of the FPS web site

David Pottinger writes:

Different people like getting their information in different ways. At Fleet Pond Society we have set up a variety of ways which hopefully cater for most tastes and which give a wide selection of snippets, photos and articles.

Here they are and as a comparison I also give the numbers (which can vary daily of course) from a similar post I wrote in April this year:

In addition, FPS regularly submits articles for publication in local newspapers, such as Surrey Hants Star Courier and Fleet News & Mail.

Happy reading 🙂

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Elvetham Heath Primary School and FPS

November 10, 2016

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Click to enlarge

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

Sharyn Wheale, the Hart Council representative on the FPS Committee, is a Governor of the Elvetham Heath Primary School and she asked us if we could help restore the school pond. Terry Austin and Colin Gray did an initial assessment of the pond which was in a very neglected and overgrown condition. They invited parents, teachers and children to come to the school on 18th September 2016 to clear all the vegetation in preparation for a small digger to be used to re-profile the pond. A good turn-out ensured a lot was achieved!

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The digger (see above) worked on 26th October, during half term so as not to endanger inquisitive youngsters with heavy machinery. It was discovered that there was an concrete base under all the accumulated mud. This complicated matters as the supports for a new pond dipping platform could not be driven into concrete. A scaffolding frame was built instead and the new platform fixed to the frame.   

The next phase will be to fill the new pond and put back all the invertebrate life we rescued from the old pond and plant lots of new aquatic and marginal plants. All the labour was supplied by Fleet Pond Society’s Last of the Summer Wine volunteers. A lot of volunteer time and effort went into a much bigger task than any had anticipated. However the team were very pleased at the result but declared never again to take on quite such a large task!”

We will keep you informed of progress on this very challenging task!

If you would like to support FPS in the many voluntary tasks we carry out each year, please consider donating or joining (just £10 a year).


Birds Use The Pond To Commute Too

October 18, 2016

Board 9 - Station Board sClick to enlarge


Pollution and Fleet Pond

September 29, 2016

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The many water inputs to Fleet Pond (click to enlarge)

Taking a relaxing walk in the natural environment of Fleet Pond, it may seem that the issue of man-made pollution is far removed. Sadly this is not the case, and the consequences of pollution can be a very real problem.

The practicalities are quite complex and so this post goes into them in some detail. An indication of the complexity can be seen in the picture above which shows the numerous water sources leading into the Pond. I’m sure this is a lot more than you might imagine!

Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, writes:

“There has been much discussion about pollution and how to deal with it during our work towards the restoration of Fleet Pond. This tended to concentrate initially on the vast volume of sand and clay silts brought down the Gelvert Stream as a result of eroded soils at the Long Valley army training lands. The new filters and settlement ponds installed by the Defence Training Estates in 2006 has led to a significant reduction in silt input to Fleet Pond.

It was therefore possible to launch a major dredging programme. New islands and reedbed extensions have been made with the extracted silt and the pond has benefited from areas of deeper water. The islands serve another purpose, that of windbreaks which reduce wind disturbance of silt in the pond. This has helped to create clearer water. The other silt problem associated with the Brookly Stream is the dead and rotting vegetation from trees, parks and gardens through which the Brookly Stream and its associated Fleet Brook flow.

This has been more difficult to solve but the new pond in Brookly Wood will take some of this at times of high water levels in the stream. The Brookly Stream also receives surface drain discharge from the residential areas as far into Fleet town as the Oatsheaf crossroads and overflow from the Basingstoke Canal sluices by Reading Road Bridge.

Pollution affecting Fleet Pond takes many forms. All along the residential side of the Pond road surface water runs into surface drains, the majority of which discharge into the drainage ditch which lies between the rear gardens of the nature reserve and the Pond. This water in turn flows into Fleet Pond via a number of channels. Water from road surfaces bring in chemical pollutants from car exhausts, spilt petrol and oil, wear from tyres and any rubbish dumped or dropped from cars.

Water from gardens, parks and open spaces that are alongside feeder streams to Fleet Pond, like the Brookly Stream and its tributaries, bring in leaves, cut vegetation, fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides.

I asked Thames Water for clarification on what happens to water that flows into surface drains in Fleet town.  The answer they gave suggests even more potential sources of pollution:

“Our ops managers in response to your query of the 11th August say the following:

Once in the surface drains, catchpits or oil interceptors (in car parks) remove grit and oil but surface water sewers are not connected to sewage treatment works and so the water inside them does not receive the same level of treatment before it is returned to the river, or in this case, Fleet Pond. We rely on landowners to use chemicals such as fertiliser, pesticides and herbicides responsibly and this is largely controlled by the Environment Agency, not Thames Water.

However, if you see decorators or builders carrying out such activities as washing cement mixers or paint brushes into surface drains it would be of great concern to us and we would advise anyone to let us know straight away by calling 0800 316 9800 24 hours a day if they see evidence of pollution or believe an incident may be imminent”.

This implies that anything tipped into a road surface drain can end up, untreated, in Fleet Pond, something I believe few people realise.   Please think carefully what you do with any waste water. In the foul sewer system it is treated; in road surface drains it is not.

To these sources we have to add one more, which is more difficult for us to solve; that of air pollution. Water in Fleet Pond will absorb chemicals like nitrates from the air adding unhealthy chemical pollution to a Pond already under some stress. Rain will wash pollutants out of the atmosphere and into the Pond. This unseen source of pollution is unlikely to lessen as more houses are built and more cars use our congested roads.

Dealing with this wide range of pollutants can be a complex problem. We try to meet this challenge by introducing barriers between the inflow points and the pond itself. Water flowing from the drainage ditch is directed through settlement pools, as at the end of Kenilworth Road and Wellington Avenue, or through reeds as at Chestnut Grove.

At the point where the Brookly Stream enters Fleet Pond a fibrous barrier has been installed to slow water down and deposit pollutants in the Brookly Bay, rather than spread throughout the Pond. This is not ideal but it does have some control. Ideally a reed bed across the Brookly Bay would filter out pollutants but this could result in water backing up the stream at high flows and cause flooding upstream into residential gardens, not a risk we wish to take.”