Fleet Pond Society Secretary Vacancy

Do you have a few spare hours a month? Would you like to support a Society which protects and manages a much-loved local nature reserve? This may be the role for you – Fleet Pond Society Committee is seeking a Secretary.

Duties of this voluntary role include:

  • Minute taking at Executive Committee meetings (every two months);
  • Making room bookings;
  • Helping to organise the AGM;
  • Keeping the directory of Committee members up to date;
  • Countersigning online bank payments;
  • Some email management.

There is also the opportunity to get involved in other activities of the Society, for example supporting events we may attend.

General admin experience would be useful. Experience of minute taking and an interest in conservation would be an advantage, but is not required.

Please note that, at the time of writing (May 2023), all committee meetings are taking place live but we have held them via Zoom in the past.

The Secretary is a Trustee position.

If you are interested, please email chairman@fleetpond.org.uk for more details.

We are a very friendly bunch and look forward to hearing from you.


‘Patsy’s Path’ at Fleet Pond Nature Reserve

Patsy Welford (pictured below) was a very keen Fleet Pond Society member and volunteer.

She not only supported the Society through conservation work around the Pond, but also by joining in on their entries to Fleet Carnival over several years (Patsy pictured with yellow bucket).

Jim Storey, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society said: ‘We were extremely saddened to learn of Patsy’s death and stunned to find that she had very kindly left the Society a generous bequest in her will. This money has enabled us to realise a long-held wish to build an accessible zig-zag path leading from the upper track near the picnic area, down to the Lions’ View lookout.’

It has been a long process from first ideas, to gaining the permissions, to having the plans created, through tendering to finally see the path built  by our contractor, Green Leaves CC Ltd and the project successfully completed.  The Society would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Steve Lyons of Hart District Council, whose help was invaluable throughout.

We were extremely pleased with the work of the Contractor who carried out all the work on the path, Green Leaves CC Ltd.

It was a pleasure to welcome Jane Reap, long-time friend of Patsy and an Executor of her estate, to cut the ribbon and officially open the path in Patsy’s honour (pictured below).


She was joined by FPS Chairman Jim Storey, Hart Countryside Ranger Sam Kerr and committee members and volunteers from the Society to witness the opening.

Jane commented: ‘Patsy had walked around Fleet Pond for 30 years, it was one of her favourite places. She would have been delighted to see how her money has been put to such good use.’

This fully accessible zig-zag path is named ‘Patsy’s Path’, in honour of a lady to whom the Fleet Pond Reserve meant a lot and who worked extremely hard to keep it the vital community asset that it is.


If you would like to learn more about Fleet Pond Society and the work they do visit www.fleetpond.org.uk

Moth activity at the Reserve during 2022

Mike Halsey writes about Moth activity found at the Reserve during 2022

The winter months up to late February are the ‘flight time’ of many species of moths in which the female doesn’t fly at all – having either no wings, or wings that are stunted. Many of these species are common at Fleet Pond, with the caterpillars feeding on either oak or birch in the early Spring. Probably the best known is the Winter Moth, the caterpillar of which is a vital part of the diet of hatchling small birds, particularly Great Tits, in Spring . One of the common flightless females seen in early 2022 at Fleet Pond was the Mottled Umber (pictured below).

As part of the 2022 survey activities, a group of Pond Society members had a number of outings in the Spring and early Summer. They began at the end of March, after a run of hot weather resulting in what looked to be an early start to the Spring/Summer moth season, although this was put on hold somewhat by an early April cold spell.

At the end of March, a highlight was a Dotted Chestnut (pictured below) which, like many others of this family, hibernate in the Autumn and delay pairing and egg-laying until March/April.

Other species seen included Oak Beauty (pictured below top) at rest on a pine trunk and Purple Thorn (pictured below bottom).


Both moths show their wonderful camouflage on lichen or among the leaf litter.

While there weren’t many moths on a cold night in mid April, the highlight of the evening was a magnificent, freshly emerged Scarce Prominent (pictured below). 

The summer season proper started in early June with a trip to Fugelmere Marsh to look for ‘Clearwing’ moths. These are day-flying wasp and hornet mimics that, until recently, have been difficult to find; however, the manufacture of artificial sex pheromones, imitating the scent released by a female moth in order to attract a mate, has made the job somewhat easier – at least for attracting males.

So far, we have been successful in finding seven species of Clearwing, including the nationally scarce White-barred Clearwing shown below top, and the Lunar Hornet Clearwing shown below bottom.


Meanwhile, light trapping has been very fruitful, with a number of important discoveries. Most notable has been a strong colony of the Dotted fan-foot moth, another nationally scarce insect of which there are few prior Hampshire records. We also saw several specimens of the Dentated Pug, the larvae of which feed in late summer on Yellow Loosestrife, a plant which grows relatively commonly in areas of the Reserve.

There will be more trips out at the Pond in coming months, both running lights at night and a range of other daytime activities including pheromones to attract clearwing moths. None of this would have happened if it hadn’t been for a couple of grants from Southern Coop, so a big ‘thank you’ to them.

Photos by Ana Peiro (Mottled Umber, Scarce Prominent, White-barred Clearwing, Dotted Fan-foot) and Emma Stephenson (Dotted Chestnut, Oak Beauty, Purple Thorn)


Late Autumn and Early Winter Birding Highlights

Birding-wise it was a rather average three months, perhaps due to the weather and/or a lack of birder coverage since mid-October.

October and November were notably milder than usual, with much needed rain. In contrast, temperatures plunged during the first two weeks of December giving us the first real taste of winter.  High pressure parked itself over Southern England, delivering heavy overnight frosts, daylight highs in the low single digits and ice over most of Fleet Pond.  Milder conditions had returned by mid-December and prevailed through to mid-January.

Wildfowl sightings, including a highlight

Encouragingly, for the second year in a row wildfowl numbers remained at elevated levels throughout October and November, up until December’s freeze which forced most to move on. Peak counts, primarily prior to the freeze, included 72 Shoveler (October 22nd), 64 Gadwall (November 13th), 46 Tufted Duck (November 13th) and 150 Mallard (December 15th), all exceeding 2021 peaks for the same period. Moorhens reached near record levels with a count of 80 on November 13th while Coot numbers remained elevated with 71 on December 11th, slightly down on 2021’s numbers. Teal continued to disappoint with a high count of 20 on November 3rd and there were only a handful of sightings of Pochard, including four on October 21st.

The wildfowl highlight was the discovery of a 1st winter male Red-breasted Merganser (illustrated above) cruising the Pond mid-morning on November 6th. This represented the first modern day record of the species at Fleet Pond. While an expected sight on South Coast estuaries in winter months, records of this saltwater-loving Merganser remain rare inland. Sadly, it remained in view for only 20 minutes before disappearing behind an island, never to be seen again but in the process becoming the 229th species of bird to be recorded at Fleet Pond since 1970!

Other less expected ducks included Wigeon, with five on November 17th and two on November 25th. Numbers of wildfowl were slow to build after December’s freeze with only Tufted Duck returning in any great number, reaching 37 on January 5th. Only one Pochard (male) was logged on January 9th.

Strong gull numbers

Other notable sightings included a late-afternoon build-up of 400 Black-headed Gulls on November 2nd, all leaving north to roost elsewhere, with 100 Herring Gulls passing over north that same afternoon. Loafing Herring Gulls remained a regular sight throughout November with a peak of 60 present on November 17th.

Great White Egrets (illustrated above right) put in their now expected late autumn and winter appearance, with singles present on November 4th, 6th, and 14th and December 5th and 29th, while up to two Little Egrets were ever present. Numbers of Great Crested Grebes peaked at 11 on November 6th. Winter surveys produced 35 Snipe on December 29th and a minimum of nine Water Rails were detected from the Reserve’s reedbeds on November 2nd (illustrated below).

Passerines on site

Notable passerines included the last Common Chiffchaff of the autumn on November 14th and a peak of three Cetti’s Warblers on November 2nd with two remaining until at least the end of the month. Winter finch flocks were limited to Siskin with 150 on November 14th and 110 on December 29th. Notable late afternoon roost counts included 500 Jackdaw and 350 Redwing on November 2nd, 260 Redwing and 90 Starling on November 9th, and 330 Jackdaw and 190 Magpie on January 1st.  A Raven was present on November 14th, leaving northwards (illustrated below).

For us birders, persevering through the next few drab weeks of winter requires commitment but the first migrants of spring are only weeks away, and if we’re lucky the weather will bring us a few birding surprises between now and early March. Good birding!

William Legge

Contributing Observers: Mike Bennett, Arun Bose, John Clark, N Hayward, Axel Kirby, Jonathan Mist, Benedict Roose, Graham Stephenson, C H Wan, and Tsui See Au Yeung 

Bird illustrations —RSPB www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/


Bogbean barrier protects islands

When Fleet Pond was dredged in 2012 the silt was used to create islands around the lake.  The idea of these islands was that they would become reedbeds, which help to improve water quality and are fantastic habitats for a variety of wildlife, especially birds.

Reedbed growth did not happen on all the islands. Geese and other waterfowl accessed where they could and grazed on all the young shoots coming through. This resulted in several barren islands, with scrub rather than reedbed growing, as pictured below.

The Fleet Pond Society Island team came up with a rationale to encourage native aquatic and marginal species, that it was necessary to protect new growth from geese and other waterfowls. The FPS Island team’s rescue plan was to plant Bogbean.

The team’s experience was that Bogbean, a native species found in many areas around Fleet Pond, provides a protective ‘buffer zone’ for the target species of plants to grow.  Geese are reluctant to enter dense beds of Bogbean.  The team has used this technique in several other areas around the Pond where reedbeds have been in decline due to grazing.

Firstly, any Willow and Alder scrub growth had to be removed from the island, as shown below.

Bogbean was then harvested from Hemelite Bay and transferred out to the islands by boat. The rhizomes were spread across the islands.

The team was delighted that the Bogbean took, and recent photos (below) show how the plant has become well established in beds on several islands.

In places Reed and Reedmace are now growing amongst Bogbean (pictured below), showing that the Bogbean has been a successful ‘buffer zone’ against geese and other wildlfowl.

Picture credits – John Sutton