Diary & News - May

Isabella, beautiful in May! The photo opposite is one of a number taken at the end of April by Szymon Bakota.You can see more of these photos at: http://bit.ly/21HaTVZ

Discoverers Spring Bird event.  Sunday, 8 May for families with young children only. Details – see Discoverers section on this website.

May Fair Sat 14 May. The Friends will once again take part in the May Fair, along with 100 other charity stalls. Look out for us there! 

Course cancellation. The Course “Ecology of Richmond Park”, originally planned for the 21 May, has unfortunately had to be cancelled.

Spring bird count. 68 species of birds were spotted in the Park on Monday 2 May during another very successful and well supported Spring Bird Count. Just four fewer species were seen than last year, but not surprising as it was so overcast. Highlights included two common sandpipers at Upper Pen Pond, a redstart, a whinchat, and a cuckoo calling.

Deer and their young. In late May the deer give birth to their young. The Red hinds produce calves, and the Fallow does produce fawns. The young are not ready to follow their mothers in the herd for one or two weeks. Until then, they lie hidden in deep grass or bracken. Their mothers graze in the vicinity, returning at intervals to groom and suckle them. At this stage the young are very vulnerable to disturbance from humans or attack by dogs and is when the mothers can be very defensive. So please: –

  • Do not touch very young deer as it may result in them being abandoned by their mothers and thus failing to survive.
  • Stay clear from females – we recommend 50m and if you notice a lone female on ‘high alert’ it would reduce her anxiety to retrace your route and give her a wide berth.
  • Dog walkers are advised to walk away from the Park, or if you choose to walk in the Park please stay clear of the remote quiet places where the deer are more likely to have young and stay on the busier areas that are generally at the edge of the Park.

Dog waste. It has to be picked up everywhere in the park. [It’s unpleasant to tread in and particularly awful for young children]. There are health issues associated with dog waste and it is detrimental to wildlife as it ‘fertilises’ the soils, adversely changing the conditions and plants that can grow there. The Royal Parks has placed bins wherever they can drive a vehicle without going off road and damaging the ground – a total of 118 bins. The Park bins received around 100 tonnes of rubbish per year of which 48% is dog waste.

It takes a lot of dog owners to pick up a lot of waste to generate this tonnage but there are still plenty of people that don’t pick up, going by what can be seen on site. Failure to pick up after your dog is an offence under the Park Regulations and other legislation and can result in a penalty from the Metropolitan Police. Discarding a bag of waste is also classed as littering which could result in an additional prosecution that could have additional fines. Abandoned bags of dog waste are found scattered across the park where they are ingested by the deer ultimately with fatal results. If you spot other dog walkers leaving waste please report them to the police by dialling 101.

The Birds of Richmond Park. A magnificent record of 10 years of bird sightings by the Richmond Park Bird Recording Group has been produced by Jan Wilczur and Nigel Jackman. The leaflet 'The Birds of Richmond Park National Nature Reserve 2006- 2015' is a summary of ten years of records by the Richmond Park Bird Recording Group. It supersedes the earlier 2001 – 2010 edition. Download it from the Friends’ website.

Holly Lodge Centre changes and Samantha Bond. The Holly Lodge Centre has a new Chairman, Mike Smythe who replaces David Thomas, and three new Trustees. You can read about them and Samantha Bond’s appearance at the Centre’s Spring Lunch in the latest edition of their newsletter Stepping Stones.
The Centre’s next event is the annual Reflections on 29 June – an evening of musical entertainment, serious and comic, including the Tiffinians a capella group.

Reports of drone hitting BA plane dismissed by minister. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has told MPs that the incident above Richmond Park earlier last month in which a plane was hit on its approach to Heathrow was not a drone strike. See details in BBC article
Please note that it is illegal to fly drones in Richmond Park except on the Flying Field, and anyone seeing this happening should dial 999.

St Paul’s view threat. The public hearing for the Bishopsgate Goods Yard development in the City of London, due to have taken place on 18th April, was postponed by the Mayor, following a request by the developer for a delay in order to address the concerns of many interested parties, including the Friends. It will now be a key agenda item for the new Mayor of London.
The £multi-million development threatened to block the protected view of St Paul’s cathedral from King Henry’s mound. Max Lankester wrote to the Mayor on behalf of the Friends. See the letter and details on this website.

Mushroom pickers warned of prosecution. It is an offence to pick mushrooms in the Park, and anyone caught could face prosecution. A recent prosecution of mushroom pickers in Epping Forest highlights the problem of ‘industrial-scale’ picking which is denuding London’s open spaces of fungi. See further details on the Friends' Facebook page.

Bird pellets. Some birds of prey swallow their food whole, but instead of digesting all the body parts, they regurgitate the inedible pieces (predominantly bones and fur) as pellets. They look like small balls of grey fur, sometimes with a few bones sticking out and are relatively easy to find and identify. In Richmond Park pellets are produced by Tawny Owls, Little Owls, Sparrowhawks, Kestrels and Jackdaws.

The location of a pellet may be an indication of the species as they tend to like different habitats – Tawny Owls and Sparrowhawks frequent woodland areas whilst Little Owls and Kestrels feed in more open grassland. Condition and quantity can be an indication of how frequently and recently the bird was present whilst size shape, and importantly contents, can be an indication of species. Pellets can be dissected by soaking in water and teasing apart the fur to reveal the bones of a variety of prey animals. There are plenty of on-line guides to identify both the pellets and the bone contents. If you handle pellets do take sensible hygiene precautions!

(Next few months)

7 May Broomfield Hill car park
4 June Pen Ponds car park
2 July Sheen Gate car park
6 Aug Kingston Gate car park

All welcome, start at 10am from the designated car park unless detailed otherwise

Informal birdwatching walks – Fridays – meet at Pen Ponds car park coffee kiosk at 9.30am.

18 June BEVERLEY BROOK project site visit (Julia Balfour)
Meet at Roehampton Gate car park at 10am
Friends’ members only – no need to book – just turn up