February Park News

                                                   Photo: After the hailstorm by Paula Redmond






More Volunteers needed for Richmond Park Spring Clean on 5th March.
Thanks to all those who have volunteered after seeing last month’s bulletin, but we do need more people. The event takes place from 12pm to 4pm. Litter picking equipment and bags will be provided. Full details about where to meet will be sent to you nearer the date. We do hope as many people as possible can join us, and if you would like to be a team leader of one of the small groups please say in your reply. Please reply to nick.coleman@dsl.pipex.com

The Richmond Park Spring Clean is part of the Friends’ campaign against litter in the park and coincides with the “Keep Britain Tidy Big Spring Clean.”

Dramatic increase in fatal attacks on deer.
Royal Parks officials warn owners of “out of control” dogs could face prosecution. Over the past 10 years 29 deer have been killed in Richmond Park by out of control dogs, with 5 killed in 2016 alone. The figure does not include deer chased into the road and hit by cars, or deer hit by cars without a dog being present. Deer killed by cars is 2-3 a year. See Evening Standard article 18 January

St Paul’s view update.
On 5 January the Friends received a letter from the Mayor in reply to our original letter of 18 November. We also received a further letter on 18 January, this time from his Principal Strategic Planner. You can see both letters here . On 3rd February FRP Trustees had a positive meeting with the Deputy Mayor for Planning and a senior GLA planning officer.

Richmond Park Geotrail.
Now available, a write up by the London Geodiversity Partnership of the Geotrail walk attended by some of the Friends in the autumn. It includes many features to look out for en route and helpful directions to guide you around the 7km circular course, which starts and ends at Kingston gate car park. Why not give it a try? We have included a PDF version you can download and print. See it here

Deer cull.
The winter deer cull started on Monday 6 February and will continue for up to 6 weeks. The Park gates will be closed to all pedestrians and traffic from 8 pm to 7.30 am. See further details in Richmond Park Diary below.

London 10 mile event.
This road race takes place in Richmond Park on Sunday 4th June. The Park will be closed off to all forms of road traffic for the day. It is a new event and is one of the 3 major events hosted by the Royal Parks each year (the other 2 being the Duathlon and Ride London). The organisers are advertising places for up to 10,000 runners and the start/finish area will be at the rugby fields near to Sheen Cross, a different part of the park from previous major events. The Friends will be closely monitoring the event as it is a new “footprint” and not too far from the skylark breeding grounds.

2017 Calendars.
Sales of this year’s calendars have been a great success, providing funding towards conservation work in the park. We have a few calendars left and they are available at the Visitor Centre – reduced to clear at £4 each.

New Greetings Cards.
The Friends have added 6 new greeting card designs to the fabulous range of views of Richmond Park. The cards are blank so can be used for any occasion the whole year round. At only £1.80 each, or £4.50 for 3, they are great value for these high quality cards. Available now at the Visitor Centre (open every day 11.00am – 3.00pm and 10.00am at weekends). Photos were kindly donated by local photographers Adrian Moysey, Diana Loch and Paul Sawford.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker census 17-26 February.
The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is a very small bird, the size of a Sparrow. Richmond Park is one of the relatively few strongholds where it can be found in Greater London. However, numbers here are very low and sadly they are probably decreasing. In an effort to assess their numbers, the Richmond Park Bird Recording Group will be attempting to locate as many as possible with a ‘blitz’ bird watch over the period Friday 17th to Sunday 26th February, checking and re-checking likely woodland habitats in the Park. See photos and full details here

If you would like to help please contact nigelyvonne.jackman@btinternet.com

EVENTS CALENDAR (Next 3 months)


4 Mar   Kingston Gate car park
1 Apr   Sheen Gate car park (+ Walk the Wall option)
17 Apr  Dawn Chorus Walk (Sheen Gate 5am)
29 Apr  Spring Bird Count (8am start, details to follow)
6 May   Broomfield Hill car park
20 May Centenary walk with London Geodiversity Partnership in collaboration with Friends of Richmond Park and the London Natural History Society

All are welcome to join our walks. Start 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 Mar Spring birds and birdsong (Peter Burrows-Smith)
13 May Wildlife Photography (Russell Ritchin)
Friends’ members only – no need to book – just turn up. Courses start 10.00am at Pembroke Lodge

Richmond Park Diary – February 2017

Road works.
Towards the end of February contractors are due to conduct works on the park roads. They will be installing 3 raised crossing points at Ham Cross, Sheen Cross and Ham Gate, which will encourage road users to reduce speed where pedestrians cross. Improvements and calming measures will also be installed on the single width ‘closed road’ only used by cyclists and pedestrians that run from Pen Ponds Car Park to Ham Cross. Some disruption from 2-way lights and road closures will be necessary but we will do all we can to keep this to a minimum. This work is part of Transport for London’s ‘Quietways’ project.

Pen Ponds Plantation.
As the Friends of Richmond Park volunteers continue to reclaim the native woodland from the Rhododendron cover, they are uncovering the fence line that has become dilapidated and unserviceable. Half the fence was replaced last year and contractors are now due to replace the rest of the fence, on the west side on the woodland.

The Great British Spring Clean.
On Sunday 5th of March between 12.00 and 16.00hrs the Friends of Richmond Park are organising a ‘spring clean’. This event is part of the charity Keep Britain Tidy’s campaign to encourage 500,000 people to get out and make sure their neighbourhood is one of which they can be proud. If you are interested in helping please contact Nick Coleman .

Deer cull.
With no predators and up to 200+ births annually, the deer population would increase beyond the Park’s carrying capacity without human intervention. To prevent starvation and habitat destruction, the deer are selectively culled during November and again in February. This ensures a healthy herd of 600 with the correct balance of ages and sexes. The cull starts on Monday 6th February during which the Park’s pedestrian gates are locked overnight from 20.00hrs for up to 6 weeks.

Wood pigeons (and stock doves).
Whilst wood pigeons are a resident bird to the UK, they have a tendency to fly from all over the UK and overwinter in the south. The counties surrounding London are much wooded, with Surrey having the highest proportion of woodland in Britain (25%). It is presumed that pigeons move to where food availability is high such as the broad leaf woodlands of south east England. In the winter the number of wood pigeon in the Park can rise. To distinguish a wood pigeon from a stock dove look for their white collar and wing markings – they are absent on stock doves.

February in Isabella Plantation


You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year.

Walks take place on:

3rd, 5th & 24th February
3rd, 12th & 31st March

Walks last for about 1.5hours and are free of charge.

Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Car Park at 11.00am

Trees and shrubs with coloured and textured bark
The pollarded willows on the banks of Peg's Pond are forms of Salix alba, with amber and red stems.
Yellow-stemmed dogwood, Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea', grows nearby under the weeping willow, and in the Bog Garden.
Red-stemmed dogwood, Cornus alba, is set back behind the heathers, and throughout the Bog Garden. Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ has orange and red stems which show throughout the winter months and can also be found in the Bog Garden.
The “River Birch”, Betula nigra, has papery shredding buff coloured bark. Two of these trees grow on the north side of the Main Stream; one above the Heather Garden and the other towards the top. 
Two “Himalayan Birches”, B. jacquemontii, with striking white stems, stand on the lawn above Thomson's Pond.
The “Tibetan Cherry”, Prunus serrula, has gleaming mahogany-red bark beginning to peel into curly shreds. One is set back on the lawn to the north east of Thomson's Pond. Three other good specimens may also be found in Wilson’s Glade.
Acer hersii, at the north end of the Acer Glade path, is one of several 'snake bark' Acers in the garden.

Heather Garden
Erica x darleyensis comes into flower in its pink and white forms.
Tawny seed heads of Erica vagans remain decorative all winter.
The tall “Portugal Heath”, Erica lusitanica, bears slightly fragrant tubular white flowers opening from pink buds throughout winter. Clumps may be found towards the top of the Heather Garden, near the junction of Thomson's Stream and the Main Stream.
Nandina domestica “Sacred Bamboo”, is planted behind the heather in several places, is truly a plant for all seasons. Decorative evergreen leaves are tinged purple in spring and autumn, panicles of white flowers open in the summer to provide orange red berries throughout winter.

Flowering shrubs
Hamamelis mollis, the “Witch Hazel”, has fragrant yellow tassel flowers. Two large shrubs stand by the gate to Broomfield Hill.
Lonicera X purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ is a shrubby honeysuckle which bears tiny white fragrant flowers throughout winter. A group of these shrubs grows by the Acer Glade path.
Rhododendron dauricum ‘Midwinter’ is a semi–evergreen or deciduous Rhododendron which grows on Bluebell Walk and looks stunning this month with its phlox purple flowers.
Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’ flowers pink in bud and fades to white grows alongside the main stream path above the Bog Garden. The name refers to the one time practice of forcing this plant for decoration.
Camellia japonica ‘Nobilissima’, with white peony form flowers grows in the woodland ride to the north of Thomson’s Stream.
The williamsii hybrid Camellia ‘Parkside’ bears an abundance of semi-double flowers in a clear pink and can be found growing in the glade next to Thomson’s Lawn. Many other Camellias are beginning to flower around the gardens.
Cornus mas the “Cornelian Cherry” grows in the shelterbelt near the gate to disabled car park. It produces lots of small yellow flowers on the naked stems throughout February.

Look out for the daffodil Narcissus cyclamineus growing naturalised in the lawns to the left of the Top Gate which bare delicate rich golden pendulous flowers.