Park News August 2018

Photo: 'Shadows of the Bird Group' on a late July evening, by Nigel Jackman


Talk on Ant Hills.

The first event in our autumn talks and courses will be on Saturday 15 September when Dr Tim King of Oxford University will talk on the ant hills of Richmond Park. His similar talk last year was a fascinating insight into a whole world about which most of us knew very little. Since then he's continued his work in Richmond Park and extended it to Bushy Park. After the talk he'll be leading a walk (or is it an expedition?) to examine the ant hills and yellow meadow ants at close quarters. Coffee/tea are available before the talk, which as usual will be at 10.15 in Pembroke Lodge. You can read the article on Dr King’s work that appeared in our summer newsletter. 

Volunteer Rangers for Richmond Park.

Last year TRP accepted the Friends' proposal for volunteer Community Rangers in Richmond and Bushy Parks. They are now going ahead with a trial from next Easter. It is envisaged that the Rangers will interact with visitors, providing them with information and advice – and on how to 'Tread Lightly'. Recruiting will begin this autumn, followed by training over the winter. TRP are managing the project but FRP will help with recruiting volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering as a Ranger, please email [email protected]. If you have already volunteered in response to the appeal in the summer newsletter you do not need to respond again. Read more

Kick out plastic – drink Park water.

The Friends' campaign to reduce plastic waste in Richmond Park continues with another initiative, one particularly important in this hot summer. Following our recent launch of reusable, collapsible cups at the Visitor Centre, we've now published a map indicating the locations in the Park where visitors can fill up bottles with drinking water. See our map. Stay hydrated and avoid using disposable plastic bottles.

Beverley Brook dead fish.

On 30/31 July there were reports of dead fish in Beverley Brook (some said over 100), Longford River and the Thames. The Environment Agency and Thames Water are working to discover the reason but it seems to be due to the storm and heavy rain in the previous few days causing low dissolved oxygen levels in the watercourses, the washing away of pollution from road run-off further up river that had accumulated because of the dry weather and a rapid change in water temperature. The water is clear again so it seems this is not a long-term problem.

BBQs and fire risk still high.

Despite a few days of cooler, damp conditions, the weather forecasts predict more sun and heat so there is still a major alert over fire risk. Of course, there is always a ban on BBQs and fires in the Park. If you do see anyone with a BBQ, please contact the park police immediately on 07920 586 546 or on 999 if you detect a fire.

New greetings cards.

There’s a new set of greetings cards, featuring beautiful photos taken in the Park, to add to the fabulous range of cards on offer at the Visitor Centre. The cards are blank inside and suitable for all occasions. The photos have been kindly donated by local photographers: Diana Loch, Andrew Wilson and Adrian Moysey. All profits go towards conservation projects in the Park. See the cards here.

New signs at Pen Ponds.

The Park management have erected some new signs at Pen Ponds advising visitors and dog walkers to respect the wildlife. The Park Police will be vigilant in ensuring that park regulations are upheld. Read more.

Richmond Park film on Channel 5 player.

Our award winning film “Richmond Park: National Nature Reserve”, presented by David Attenborough, is now available to view 24/7 on the Channel 5 digital video on-demand service My5. See it here. It's also being regularly broadcast on the specialist documentary channel, Together TV (Freeview HD 93, Sky 173, Virgin Media 269, Freesat 164).

The Friends 2019 calendar on sale this month. 

'Richmond Park National Nature Reserve' calendar will be on sale at the Visitor Centre from 25 August – just in time for you to buy some over the August bank holiday weekend. The calendar includes 57 beautiful wildlife images taken in Richmond Park and all generously donated by the photographers, so that all profits go towards conservation projects in the Park.


Yellow flowering ragwort is prominent in the Park now. Most of the ragwort is removed every year by The Royal Parks because it spreads rapidly and could take over the Park. However, some is left as an invaluable food source to many important species of pollinators: bees, butterflies, moths, ladybirds, beetles, crickets, in particular cinnabar moth caterpillars (yellow and black stripes). Ragwort can be toxic to equine animals and deer, but only if it is consumed in very large quantities or regularly over a period of time. Most horse riders are aware of the danger and deer don't feed on the live flowers as they are very bitter. The highest risk is when horse feed producers make hay and the dried flowers get into the feed, but this doesn't happen with the deer (who are not fed on hay) and most reputable feed producers are well aware of the risk and avoid any ragwort getting into animal feed.

Summer Nights in the Park!

Thursday night – a spectacular view of the ‘Red Planet’ by Nigel Jackman. Friday evening – a selection of colourful and impressive park scenes, by Anne Ross.


All are welcome to join our walks. Start 10am from the designated car park unless stated otherwise.
• 01 Sep Roehampton Gate car Park
• 06 Oct Sheen Gate Car Park (Deer + Walk the Wall)

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 book – just turn up. Coffee/tea provided.

• 15 Sep Ant hills (course by Dr Tim King)
• 13 Oct Deer (Peter Burrows Smith)

Courses consist of a 45 minute talk indoors followed by a 90 minute walk.
Talks are usually 45-60 minutes and are not followed by a walk.



Wasp spider (Argiope bruennichi).

This time of year is when our 8-legged friends start to show up everywhere. However not all of them are as colourful and distinctive as the female wasp spider, which measures 14-17mm, has yellow, black and white stripes across the body and stripy legs, and mimics the colouration of a wasp, hence its name! The male is pale brown and much smaller, measuring only 4-6mm. It is however harmless and related to the Common garden spider so its appearance is actually a defence mechanism to ensure predators stay away. It was first recorded in England in the 1920’s and believed to come from the continent but the Wasp spider is now found across southern England, mainly in grasslands and heathlands, including Richmond Park.

Wasp spiders also have unique webs, which are large and orb-shaped and the web decoration or stabilimentum, as it’s called, has a single white zig-zag pattern of silk running through the centre of it. Interestingly, it is claimed that E.B.White came up with the idea of a writing spider for his book Charlotte's Web after observing stabilimenta in a spider web. This particular zig-zag shape and design is created to reflect UV light and attract pollinating insects such as flies, bees and moths. However grasshoppers form the main food item and when prey is caught, they are quickly immobilised and wrapped in silk. Both sexes mature in the late summer so now is the perfect time to see them!

Mission: Invertebrate.

The Mission: Invertebrate team will be bringing the learning to you and coming to Richmond Park on Thursday 23rd August from 11am to 3pm at Pembroke Lodge. You will have the opportunity to get close to nature and learn more about the wonderful world of invertebrates that thrive in the Park, as there will be bug trails, interactive story-telling, creative craft activities and invertebrate missions galore. No booking is required and all the activities are free so come along and join in the fun!

Bracken management.

Bracken dominates large areas of the Park so we will be continuing to cut, spray and roll using horse-drawn bracken rollers throughout August. Bracken has the ability to smother more sensitive habitats such as the acid grassland areas so this work helps to control its spread, ensures other species are able to establish and prevents a dominant monoculture of bracken from establishing across the Park.

Green Flag Award.

Last month Richmond Park was presented with a Green Flag Award for the eleventh year running. The Award is given in recognition of achieving the international standard for parks and green spaces. Richmond Park received some of the highest possible scores, being placed at the top banding for most categories, which reflects positively on all the excellent work that is carried out by The Royal Parks staff, contractors, concessions and volunteers.

Deer fraying.

The male deer, which are the fallow bucks and the older stags, are currently marking their territories and cleaning the velvet off their newly-grown antlers by rubbing or fraying, as it’s known, on trees and shelters. The antlers are fully-grown so the ‘velvet’ covering them becomes redundant. It dies and shreds and the deer thrash their antlers against vegetation to rub it off so the deer may be seen briefly with blood stained tatters of skin dangling across their antlers or faces. Please keep away from them and do not touch, feed or photograph them at close range.

Park road closures.

The Park will be closed to traffic all day on Sunday 16th September for the Descente London Duathlon / RUN10 event.

Richmond Park Open Day.

This year Richmond Park will be holding an Open Day on Sunday 23rd September from 11am to 4pm. It will be packed full of fun things to see and do and an opportunity to find out what goes on behind the scenes to manage this National Nature Reserve.

Tread Lightly in the Park – “Please take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and kill nothing but time”


Hydrangea aspera subsp. Sargentiana – Grows in Wilson's Glade in the north east corner, this upright gaunt shrub bears broad heads of flowers from late summer to mid-autumn, the inner ones are blue or deep purple, the outer ones are large and white.

Sorbaria kirilowii – Also found in Wilson's Glade produces white flowers in large conical panicles throughout July and August.

Heptacodium miconioides – Is a vigorous shrub that bears lightly scented clusters of white flowers throughout late summer and early autumn. It can be found growing below Thomson's Pond and also on the Birthday Mound.

Calycanthus occidentalis – Grows at the top end of the Old Nursery. This Californian species bears large red-brown flowers throughout the summer.

Heather Garden

Summer flowering shrubs in the Heather Garden include varieties of Erica vagans, the Cornish Heath, such as 'Mrs. Maxwell' – dark pink; 'Rosea' – light pink; and 'Cornish Cream' – cream. Several varieties of Calluna vulgaris have coloured foliage, such as 'Gold Haze' – white flower and gold leaf; and 'Robert Chapman' – purple flower with bronze foliage. Daboecia cantabrica has white or purple waxy bells.

The Streams

Along the streams many native marginal plants are in flower, such as Purple and Yellow Loosestrife, Meadowsweet, Greater Willowherb and Hemp Agrimony. These wild flowers, along with the heathers, attract many butterflies. Elsewhere, streamside clumps of Hemerocallis, the Day Lily, produce a succession of tall yellow or orange trumpet-shaped flowers throughout July and August; each flower lasting only a day.

Thomson's Pond and the Bog Garden

Thomson's Pond and the Bog Garden, have fine stands of Pontederia cordata, the Pickerel Weed, with spikes of blue flowers amongst erect spear-shaped leaves. In the Bog Garden look out for the creamy–yellow flowers of Kirengeshoma palmate which show until the autumn.

Isabella Plantation Garden Walks

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

Dates to be announced

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.