Photo: Police stop cyclist in Richmond Park, courtesy of The Mail Online

April  2020

Keeping  Richmond  Park  Open

Along with The Royal Parks, we want to say a HUGE thanks for your messages of support and for following the rules on social distancing in the Park. These are unprecedented times and it’s so important we all work together to keep Richmond Park open. Here’s a reminder:

  • Cycling is no longer allowed in the Park. Children under 12 can ride their bikes, but accompanying adults must be on foot. It’s not possible for an older family member to cycle.
  • NHS workers with their staff passes and key workers approved by the Government going directly to or returning from their place of work can also cycle through the park upon presenting documentation from their employers.
  • Please keep dogs on leads to help people stay 2m apart.
  • Stay 2m+ away from other people
  • Exercise alone or with others from your household

Don’t drive to the Park – stay local

Stay safe. Be kind. Look out for others and take care. If we all work together we can keep the parks open for everyone. 

CV-19  isolation  antidote  –  Richmond  Park  videos  with  David  Attenborough  and  a  stellar  cast   

Many of us who love Richmond Park are stuck at home in these challenging times, so we thought you may like a selection of videos to lighten the mood, brighten your day and highlight the many wonderful aspects of our local National Nature Reserve.

  1. David Attenborough introduces screen and stage stars and one of the UK’s greatest living poets in this tribute to 300 years of poetry inspired by Richmond Park (12′ 35″).  The stellar cast, reading extracts from poems & prose are: Julian Glover (The Crown, Game of Thrones, Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade), Julia Watson (Doctors, Casualty, Dempsey & Makepeace), Anthony Calf (Poldark, New Tricks, Madness of King George) and Stella Gonet (Man Down, Breeders, House of Eliott).

L-R Julian Glover, Stella Gonet, Julia Watson, Anthony Calf

T S Eliot award winner David Harsent premieres his wonderful poem  A Dream of Richmond Park.  David’s new book, Loss, was The Guardian’s March poetry book of the month.

David Harsent

  1. The clever trailer or ‘teaser’ for our award-winning Richmond Park film (1′) is a wonderful curtain raiser for the ‘main feature’.  David Attenborough walks by Richmond Park’s wall and sets the scene for….

  1. …the award-winning Richmond Park: National Nature Reserve (21′).   Virtually visit the Park and see your favourite wildlife in this glorious film.  It’s now been seen by nearly 150,000 on YouTube and is a must for all Park lovers.

  1. There’s more of Sir David’s mellifluous voice in his moving reading of Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World set to beautiful clips from his BBC TV series; a great pick-me-up in these difficult times.

David Attenborough at Poet’s Corner

We hope you enjoy these and look out for some more Richmond Park-inspired ideas to while away isolation time, coming soon…

Winter  Tree  Photo  Competition  results  and  news

We are pleased to announce that the winner of our ‘Year of the Tree’ Winter Photo Competition is Cath Gothard. The judges thought that the composition of this winning photo was excellent, drawing the eye along the line of willows to the bridge beyond, and back again past the willow on the opposite back. Cath also captured the character of the willows as they cling to the bank through harsh winter weather, showing them as part of the eco system of the brook.

The runner up is Amanda Boardman. The judges particularly liked the way Amanda captured the character of the tree in the very clear silhouette, with a bird having just taken off from the upper branches, indicating the tree’s importance to wildlife even in the depths of winter.
See the photos plus the shortlisted and longlisted entries.

Spring  Photo  Competition  postponed

Due to current restrictions on movement, the Spring competition is postponed until next year and we will advise on the Summer and Autumn competitions nearer the dates.

2021  Calendar  photos  –  closing  date  extended  until  15  May

We have extended the deadline for a month to give you all more time to select your photos to send in for the Friends 2021 Richmond Park Calendar.
Please see or the news section of the friends website, for details of how and where to send them.

We look forward to seeing your amazing images – a maximum number of 8 photos from each photographer, but not more than 4 from any one season: winter, spring, summer, autumn. The 2020 calendar sold more than ever and raised a record amount for projects in the Park. We are very grateful to all who donate their photos.

Tree  of  the  Month  –  April

As part of our Year of the Tree celebration, we continue with the Tree of the Month featuring a different tree each month, with useful facts and where to find it in the Park; this month’s tree is the mysterious Yew. An opportunity for the whole family to explore, find and learn about different types of tree in Richmond Park through free facts sheets, written and illustrated for younger readers, 7-12 years old. See the Tree of the month Facts Sheets.

 AGM  Cancelled

As announced in the Special Bulletin on 10 March, the AGM, which was due to take place on 18 April, is cancelled. We anticipate it will take place later in the year, depending on the progress of Coronavirus.

Cycling  and  social  distancing

Here’s an interesting article for cyclists, discussing, amongst other things, how much distance to leave between the cyclist in front to take account of the speed of travel and entry into his/her airspace.

Meet  Richmond  Park’s  Shape  Shifters

We hope to re-schedule Discoverers family events when the current crisis is over. In the meantime, if you are in the Park for your daily exercise, you might like to keep an eye open for some of its stranger inhabitants. (We’re talking about trees of course!). Some trees never really die. They just turn into mysterious tree creatures which are vital contributors to our Park’s biodiversity. Learn more about Richmond Park’s remarkable ‘Shape Shifters’.

Heathrow:  down  –  but  not  out

Where have Heathrow got to with their plans to put flight paths over Richmond Park? Friends’ Trustees last met them at the end of January and were due to meet them again in late March or April. However, since then Heathrow’s plans have suffered three blows:

  1. the CAA refused to countenance their proposed massive pre-project spending proposals. This pushed back the 3rd runway start-up from 2026 to between early 2028 and late 2029.


  1. the Court of Appeal ruled that the government’s Heathrow expansion decision was unlawful because it did not take into account the UK’s climate change policy

And now

  1. Covid-19 has arrived – and is causing immense financial damage to the aviation industry and focused Heathrow on coping with its present operations rather than the future expansion.

So Heathrow’s plans are paused and they have laid off the consultants who were developing the environmental aspects of the expansion plans, who the Friends were talking to. It is not clear if/how they will restart when the Covid-19 crisis is past – and whether the 3rd runway will still go ahead. But the main threat to Richmond Park is not the expansion but the proposed new flightpaths that come with the first redesign of UK airspace for 50 years. While that redesign has been delayed it is still there, whatever happens to the 3rd runway.

Rare  sightings

After a quiet three months for bird records one lucky birdwatcher spotted nine adult Little Gulls feeding briefly at the Pen Ponds in late March. This was only the fourth Park record in the past twenty years of these scarce migrants, the world’s smallest gull, each weighing little more than a blackbird. Often thought to resemble terns rather than larger gulls, the Summer adults have jet black heads, a small dark bill, short red legs and dark, smoky grey underwings that are unmistakable when the birds are in flight.

Little gull by Åsa Berndtsson – Dvärgmås

There were two separate sightings in the late March sunshine of a Hummingbird Hawk-moth. A migrant visitor to the UK from Southern Europe, more normally seen flying from May to September, the moth hovers over flowers like a hummingbird, feeding with its long proboscis and its wings moving so quickly that it ‘hums’.

Hummingbird Hawk-moth by Francis Kelly


Events  Calendar

 WALKS and TALKS & WALKS are cancelled until further notice.


Richmond  Park  Diary – April  2020 

The  Coronavirus  Pandemic

This is an unprecedented situation that has resulted in an exceptionally difficult time for everyone that shares the park, whatever their situation or preferred activity. Restrictions have been put in place to keep users and park staff safe by ensuring we can all comply with government guidance.

These restrictions have changed and are likely to change again but the Royal Parks post updates on social media (Facebook and Twitter) and place notices at Park gates as fast as we can.

Many people want to do all they can to stay safe and help by reducing the spread of the virus further. Do consider the following: –

  • Avoid the ‘rush hours’ mid-week, the entrances have a peak in visitors morning and early evening. Why not experience a dawn chorus of birdsong or evening walk when you may hear owls or see bats?
  • Visit mid-week. Many people’s leisure time is still restricted to weekends when parks are busier and difficult to keep your social distance.
  • All countryside is quieter when the weather is worse, put on a coat and make the most of a cold or rainy day!
  • The park is busiest near entrances and major routes, walk a little way into the park and don’t linger at the entrances where people are also waiting to enter/exit.
  • Open pedestrian gates with your foot. At night and at some of the quieter pedestrian gates, the park gates need to be deer proof and require the visitor to open and close a gate.  You may choose to do this with your foot rather than hand, or wear gloves.  And do follow government guidance not to touch your face and wash hands regularly.

Listening  to  birdsong

With the absence of aeroplanes and road traffic the park is much quieter and allows us to observe wildlife so much better.   As spring develops birds in particular start their courtship and we can hear their songs as they attract mates and defend territories.  Often the song is an indication that a bird is present but can be difficult to see.  With a little patience, they are much easier to spot when they move and a pair of binoculars can help to reveal who is calling!  If you are new to birdwatching, there is so much information, including recordings of songs on the internet – the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a great place to start.


April  in  the  Isabella  Plantation

April  Plant  Diary

Unfortunately the Isabella Plantation is closed until further notice, but you can see the April Plants Diary here on the Royal Parks website.

Magnnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’ by Magnus Manske