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.


Secretive Water Rail Seen at the Pond

December 7, 2016

water-rail-fleet-pond

Local photographer John Sutton grabbed this impressive snap of a water rail on the Pond during the recent icy weather. This is a very secretive bird that lives deep in the reedbeds from most of the year, but emerges into the open when the pond is frozen over. You can get a good idea of its size by the moorhen just behind it!

Further information on the Water Rail here.


End of Algal Bloom Alert

December 7, 2016

Earlier this year, a warning was given of the presence of harmful algal blooms at Fleet Pond (see here).

We are happy to say that the blue green algae has now gone from the Pond as confirmed by the Environment Agency last month.


Elvetham Heath Primary School and FPS

November 10, 2016

ehps-pond-1

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!

ehps-pond-digger

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