Park News April 2018

The Richmond Park film has now made it to the finals of the national Charity Film Awards.

In our category of 'Longform' films, there were originally 86 entries. YOUR VOTES helped us get to the 16 most nominated and now a panel of expert judges have chosen the film as one of just 5 finalists. To win the 'People's Choice Award', at a ceremony in early May, we need you to vote again.

Please vote for us at:

Share the link with all your friends, family, colleagues and everyone you know and you'll be helping to spread David Attenborough's "Tread Lightly" message.
Voting is simple –
1) REGISTER or LOGIN (if you voted previously in the first round. There’s a password reset if you need it).
2) Scroll down towards the bottom of the page where you will find our film. Click on it, then click VOTE

April talk at Pembroke Lodge.

The next in the series of Friends’ talks is on Saturday 21 April. Max Lankester will give an illustrated talk about “The Buildings of Richmond Park”. He will cover a number of park buildings which no longer exist, as well as the principal Lodges which can be seen today. This event will consist of a 45 minute talk only, there will not be an organised walk afterwards. It starts at 10.15am at Pembroke Lodge and is for Friends members only (new members welcome). There is no need to book, just turn up; coffee and tea provided.

‘Bones and Feathers’ – Discoverers’ Owl Pellets Dissection Workshop on Sunday am, 29 April.

An event for families and young people. Details will be posted at

Elm Trees are a winner.

We are delighted to announce that we now have sponsors for all the 47 elm trees in the newly created Elm Walk, near Petersham gate. We would like to thank all sponsors for their generous contributions. All the trees have been planted and a commemorative board is being prepared which will list each numbered tree and its personal dedication. The board and its stand are being constructed from English elm wood and it will be a proud feature at the gateway to Elm Walk for years to come.

Spring Clean new date.

The annual Spring Clean litter collection was to have taken place on 4 March but had to be postponed due to snow and bad weather. It was rescheduled for 18 March but had to be cancelled again for the same reason – even worse weather! The new date is 15 April.

Park Film seen by over 3,000 school children.

We've taken the film to 13 schools so far and it's been seen by over 3,000 children and staff. In our presentations, we talk about the importance of conservation in Richmond Park and how, by using David Attenborough's ‘Tread Lightly’ message, we can help protect the Park's wildlife. We encourage children to share the message and tell their friends and families to watch the film, and many teachers use the film and Tread Lightly leaflets in classes and projects.
If you know a school or teacher who would like to know more or arrange a presentation, Q&A or assembly, please contact

Last call for photos for 2019 Calendar.

Please send us your photos for Friends’ 2019 Calendar of Richmond Park. Last year’s calendar was a great success and the 2019 Calendar will again show the amazing diversity of fauna and flora and views in the Park across the seasons. The deadline for receipt of photos is Friday 13 April 2018. Full details here.

The Birds of Richmond Park 2008-2017.

This latest issue, recording 170 species of birds seen in the Park over the last 10 years, is now available for download, compiled by Jan Wilczur and Nigel Jackman. See it here.

Dawn Chorus Walk 7th May (Bank Holiday Monday).

Join this fascinating walk. It’s an early start! Meet at Sheen Gate at 4.15am, led by Peter Burrows-Smith.

Park Open Day – volunteers needed.

There will be another Richmond Park Open Day on Sunday 23 September, with a basic format similar to previous years but with some new features to be revealed! The Friends expect to be stewarding the event as usual and have our own stalls. If you’d like to volunteer to help and are not on our normal list of volunteers for the event, please email

Visitor Centre new opening hours.

The Visitor/Information Centre is now open longer hours for Spring and Summer – 10.00 till 4.00pm daily, with a great range of merchandise and original gift ideas.

Events Calendar 2018

Next 3 months

All are welcome to join our walks. Start 10am from the designated car park unless stated otherwise.
07 Apr Sheen Gate Car Park (+ Walk the Wall)
05 May Broomfield Hill Car Park
07 May Sheen Gate (Dawn Chorus meet 4.15am)
02 Jun Pen Ponds Car Park

Informal birdwatching walks – Every Friday – meet at Pen Ponds car park coffee kiosk at 9.30am

TALKS & COURSES – Friends members only. (New members – join here)
Start at Pembroke Lodge at 10.15am, unless otherwise stated. No need to be booked – just turn up. Coffee/tea provided.
21 Apr Buildings of Richmond Park (Talk by Max Lankester)
12 May An Introduction to the Flora of Richmond Park (Course by Mary Clare Sheahan)
30 Jun Butterflies (Course by Nigel Jackman)
Courses consist of a 30 minutes talk indoors followed by a 2 hour walk. Talks are usually longer than 30 minutes and are not followed by a walk

Richmond Park Diary April 2018

Whilst the month of April is synonymous with ‘April showers’, it is also the key month when birds and animals start their breeding season.

Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus). The Cuckoo is an iconic summer resident that arrives in the UK in April to breed from tropical Africa. It is considered a lucky bird with the first call of the Cuckoo indicating that spring has arrived, with the event traditionally reported in 'The Times' newspaper. The sound is familiar to most people but it is only the male Cuckoo which calls cuckoo. It is a dove-sized bird with blue grey upper parts, head and chest with dark barred white under parts.

They are a well-known brood parasite, which means the females lay their eggs (between 12 and 22) in the nests of other birds, especially meadow pipits, dunnocks and reed warblers, and then leaves the adopted parents to bring up the juveniles. The adults move back to Africa as soon as the breeding season is over, which is typically in July or August, with young birds leaving a month or so later.

The cuckoo population has recently declined which has made them a Red List species meaning they are a high conservation priority needing urgent action. It was last proved that they bred in the Park in 1979 but almost every year there are one or two lingering males. We are therefore fortunate that they can still be heard in Richmond Park in spring despite the national decline, so listen out for them!

Fish survey. Contractors have been employed to undertake a fish survey of Upper and Lower Pen Ponds at the beginning of April using electro-fishing and seine netting techniques. The survey will provide an informed opinion as to the general state and makeup of the fish population based on the species, numbers and age of the fish caught. The survey will also provide important information so works can be planned to ensure the Ponds are healthy and the fish population is sustainable.

Belted Galloway Cows. The four Belted Galloway cows are still grazing the 4-hectare paddock on Sawyer’s Hill near to Holly Lodge. The cows have been grazing, trampling and therefore weakening the more vigorous grasses and coarser vegetation to create some bare ground, which will open up the sward and allow a flower-rich grassland to develop.


Grow your skills with The Royal Parks Horticultural Apprenticeship Scheme. The Royal Parks are recruiting for apprentices to start in August 2018. The Royal Parks Apprenticeship Scheme is an ideal way to begin a career in the horticultural and park management industry and is a unique opportunity to work and learn in one of London’s historic Royal Parks. The length of the scheme will typically be 3 years and consist of on the job training, day release to college and specialist masterclasses run by experts. For more details and to apply, please visit: Closing date for applications: 22nd April 2018.


Deer. Please respect the deer and always keep at least 50 meters away from them and do not touch, feed or photograph the deer at close range.

Veteran trees and protection. If you see wooden fencing or metal barriers erected around some of the ancient and veteran trees in the Park, please respect it and do not climb or go inside it. The fencing has been erected to keep people safe from falling branches or tree collapse and to protect the tree and its root system from trampling and compaction of the ground.

Park road closures. The Park will be closed on Sunday 13th May for the London 10 mile Run, which is the second time this event will be held in Richmond Park. For more information and/or to enter the run, see here.

“Please tread lightly in Richmond Park National Nature Reserve”


Isabella Plantation in April

The streams. – are bright with Marsh Marigolds, (Caltha palustris). The yellow hooded spathes of the American Skunk Cabbage, (Lysichiton americanus), which precede large rank leathery leaves, are conspicuous along the stream from the Still Pond.

Camelias. – are still flowering throughout the Garden. They are mainly older Camellia japonica cultivars and a number of Williamsii hybrids.

Rhododendrons. Along the Bluebell Walk, opposite the Acer Glade, look out for the bright purple flowers of the deciduous R. reticulatum. This month the Japanese azaleas start into flower. They are usually at their best during the last week of April and the first week of May. R.racemosum grows down the path from the Still Pond, it is a medium sized shrub that bears pale to bright pink flowers.
Rhododendron ‘Quaker Girl’ grows in the glade set back from the path at the top of Thomson’s Stream and bears trusses of stunning white flowers with a deep crimson throat. Look out for Rhododendron ‘Bibiani’ growing in a number of areas in the garden, this shrub produces compact trusses of rich crimson funnel shaped flowers with maroon spots.

Early evergreen azaleas are beginning to flower throughout the garden look out for ‘Kirin’ a pale pink “hose in hose” (flower within an flower) and ‘Sylvester’ which has small deep pink flowers. In a glade set back from the Main Stream and other locations around the Garden are the blue flowering Rhododendrons from the Triflorum series these are Rhododendron augustinii and the R,chasmanthum hybrid Rhododendron ‘Electra’.

Magnolias. Throughout the gardens pink and white forms of Magnolia soulangiana come into flower. Along the Bluebell Walk are two small pink hybrids of M. stellata, called M. X loebneri 'Leonard Messel'. A larger one is set back by the Scots Pine to the far side of the Acer Glade. Magnolia ‘Heaven Scent’ one of the Gresham Hybrids grows in a ride off the Main Stream and has goblet shaped flowers, pink on the outside and white inside. Its flowers have a strong lavender scent.

Daffodils. In the Wet Lawn area near the top gate, the golden yellow flowers of Narcissus bulbocodium subsp. bulbocodium with conical cups and pointed petals have now appeared and succeed the delicate flowers of Narcissus cyclamineus, which are also naturalised in this area.

The Bog Garden. Look out for the clusters of white or pale pink flowers borne on white–haired stems which are those of the “Umbrella Plant”, Darmera peltata which flowers before it produces foliage.

Wheelchair available. A motorised wheelchair, which makes the job of pushing considerably easier, may be loaned for use within the Garden on weekdays between 9.00 and 15.00. Please ring 0300 061 2200 to book the chair by noon on the day before it is required.

Isabella Plantation Garden Walks 2018

You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year.
Walks will take place:

Sunday 15 and Friday 27

Friday 4, 25 and Sunday 6

Walks last about 1.5 hours and are free of charge. Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Hill car park at 11.00a.m.