Photo opposite: Kestrel mantling its prey, by Charles Roscorla, 30 March in Richmond Park.
AGM reminder. The Friends AGM is on Saturday 16 April at King’s House School in Richmond. It’ll start with coffee at 10.00 and finish by 12.30/1.00 followed by a sandwich lunch. The speaker is Andrew Scattergood, the Chief Executive of The Royal Parks, along with Simon Richards, the Park Manager, and there will be plenty of time for questions. The full papers for it were sent out in the Spring newsletter ten days ago. See you there!
Skylark protection. The skylark breeding season began last month and we are again asking for your help in protecting them. As the bird nests on the ground, its nest is particularly vulnerable to being trampled on by walkers and their dogs. Signs and ‘gates’ have gone up around the breeding areas on Lawn Field (between Pen Ponds and White Lodge) and Crown Field (near Roehampton Gate, between Beverley Brook and the rugby pitches). Please stick to the paths and to keep your dog on a lead. By doing this, you avoid disturbing the skylarks yourself and set an example for others who currently ignore or don’t read the signs. We don’t want to lose this precious bird from Richmond Park.
Spring Bird Count. A reminder that the Park’s Bird Recording Group is planning a “Spring Bird Count” on the Spring Bank Holiday Monday 2 May. Seventy-two species were recorded by last year's count. There will be three groups starting from the following car parks at 8.00 am:
• Kingston Gate (led by John Corkindale)
• Roehampton Gate (Jan Wilczur)
• Sheen Gate (Peter Burrows-Smith)
They will be walking pre-set routes to cover the whole park and hopefully all the potential bird species; then meeting up at the Pen Ponds coffee kiosk late morning to compare notes and make the final count. If you would like to join them, just turn up at one of the locations.
Ride London 100 and Half Marathon places. The Holly Lodge Centre has a number of charity places available for both of these events. If you are interested and are willing to raise sponsorship money for the Centre, contact Anna King, the Centre Manager on firstname.lastname@example.org. Ride London, of course, goes through Richmond Park and the Royal Parks Half Marathon is held in the central Parks.
Ticks. Over the last two months the media (traditional and social) has extensively covered the risks from tick-borne diseases, especially for pets but also for humans. We are entering the tick season, which lasts until autumn, so please read the advice in the Park Diary below. You can download a leaflet with TRP’s advice from our website at https://www.frp.org.uk/park/ticks-and-lyme-disease.
Construction Work. Various building work is taking place in the Park. The long-awaited refurbishment of Ham Gate toilets is underway. White Ash Lodge next to Pond Slade is being refurbished with completion in May after which it will be privately rented. Landscaping work has been done around the Pen Ponds kiosk to improve the kiosk setting and make it better for the wheelchair athletes who use this space as a training base. And the fencing around Pen Ponds Plantation has been repaired and replaced where the rhododendron clearance has been done.
Railings in Pembroke Lodge garden. The root zone of many veteran oaks on Pembroke Lodge north lawn, across from the Belvedere Suite, are visibly suffering from compaction from visitors use of the area and railings are being installed to protect them. The compaction increases the risk of falling branches and the railings will also protect the public from them. It is, unfortunately, yet another outcome of rising visitor numbers.
Policing at Bank Holidays. Discussions between Park management and the Richmond Park Police Panel, chaired by Peter Burrows-Smith of the Friends, have resulted in the allocation to Richmond Park of 1½ to 2 officers per shift, rather than the normal ½, over the busy bank holiday weekends at Easter and in May. The numbers are still less than they were 2 years ago, but it is a positive sign that the Park’s environmental policing needs are being recognised.
Closure on Easter Monday. Some members have asked about the closure of the Park to traffic and pedestrians early on Easter Monday. It was closed from 7 to 9.30 a.m. because of the danger from very high winds bringing down branches and indeed whole trees. Once the winds reduced it was opened again.
Wake of Buzzards. The 29 people on the Friends regular Friday morning birdwatching walk on Good Friday had the wonderful sight of seven buzzards soaring together in tight formation over White Ash Lodge. The display lasted for a few minutes before the birds headed west. The collective name for buzzards is a wake – you can see more such collective names at http://www.britishbirdlovers.co.uk/articles/collective-nouns-for-birds.