Butterflies And Wildflowers At Fleet Pond

May 17, 2018

The butterfly for May, the Orange Tip (credit, Wikipedia)

With the arrival of the warm 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, 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: May – The Orange Tip; see picture at top):

“Although a few may have been seen during April, May is the month when there are often lots of Orange Tips flying around Fleet Pond. The footpath from Avondale Road alongside the Brookly Stream is often a good place to see them (see map on About page above). Like a large number of insects and animals, nature seems to make the male of the species more colourful and this is particularly true of the Orange Tip.”

In addition, Michelle Salter 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

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

Bogbean at Hemelite Bay

“The pretty, white flowers of Bogbean have been appearing along the edges of the reedbeds at Hemelite Bay. Bogbean is a creeping aquatic perennial that grows along the sides of lakes, ponds or slow-flowing rivers. Often forming large colonies, Bogbean plants help to protect the greenery of the reedbeds against damage from Canada Geese.

Bogbean flowers

The flower buds of Bogbean are rose-pink and open up into feathery white stars as the petals are fringed with white threads. The plant has distinctive three-lobed shiny leaves raised on long stalks to avoid shade. The leaves of Bogbean have been used to flavour beer, giving the plant the alternative name of ‘bog hop’.”

The wildflower photographs are courtesy of Michelle Salter.

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A Note On Feeding The Ducks

January 31, 2018

An advice poster on feeding wildfowl (click to enlarge)

Taking a bag of bread down to a Pond, river or canal and feeding the swans, geese, ducks and seagulls is something that has been done for generations.

What could be better for all of us than enjoying time out in the fresh air and feeding the ducks. Better for us, yes, but as far as bread goes, not better for the swans, geese, ducks and seagulls etc.

It is proven that feeding bread to these hungry birds is not a good thing. Although it fills them up, bread has very little nutritional value for them and is doing more harm than good.

The Countryside Rangers have issued a new poster (see above) encouraging visitors to feed the wildfowl with pelleted duck food, available from most good pet stores.

It’s just as much fun and you have the happy feeling of knowing that you are feeding them well. Please look out for the posters on the noticeboards and jetties around the Pond.

See also: Keeping Our Ducks Healthy

An information board on some of the wildlife at Fleet Pond


Big Garden Birdwatch 2018

January 26, 2018

Further details here.


Why Not Join The Big Butterfly Count For 2017?

July 14, 2017

Why not join in the Big Butterfly Count, either locally or perhaps as a fun activity at Fleet Pond? It runs from the 14th July to the 6th August.

Here are some links to articles on butterflies that can be found at Fleet Pond Nature Reserve:

Butterflies Around The Pond – Have You Seen Any?

Butterflies At The Pond


Moths, An Unusual Pet

June 22, 2017

The Elephant Hawk Moth (from Wikipedia)

Peter Martin, President of Fleet Pond Society, writes:

“Most people would regard butterflies as beautiful creatures, but some have an aversion to moths, either because they dislike the fluttering around nearby light sources or due to the holes created in their clothing by clothes-moth caterpillars. It may, therefore, surprise you to learn that one of my favourite pets has been a moth caterpillar.

The Elephant Hawk Moth (see above) lays its ‘whitish-green’ eggs on Willow Herb in June and I was lucky enough to find one of the resulting fully-grown caterpillars crawling across the earth one August looking for somewhere to pupate. They normally do this just below the level of the soil and, to make sure that my caterpillar would not be affected by anything within a sample that I scooped up, I sterilised a small amount before putting it into a container with the caterpillar. As expected, it burrowed into the earth and, through the glass I could see when it had pupated.

If you look at an Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar (see below), you will probably think that it is one of the ugliest of creatures, although very aptly named. I had to wait patiently until the following June for the moth to emerge from the chrysalis, but what a beautiful sight was in store for me. The difference between the moth and the caterpillar was like “beauty and the beast”.

The Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar (from Wikipedia)

Having run a moth trap during some summer nights, I have had the opportunity to see that all moths are not as dowdy as some people would think.   Before letting them go, there is a chance to look at them closely and even the wings of the tiniest moths often have really beautiful colour patterns when seen through a magnifying glass or microscope.”

Ed. Related articles by Peter Martin that may also be of interest include:


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


Rail Fishing At Pond

January 30, 2017

water-rail-and-bream

This unusual photo of the secretive Water Rail catching a small bream at the margins of the ice at Fleet Pond was kindly provided by John Sutton.

See also here.