There are now five defibrillators located in Richmond Park – at Roehampton Gate cafe, White Lodge reception, Pembroke Lodge, outside Holly Lodge and with the police. Park Run also have their own defibrillator at Richmond Gate for their events at 9 am on Saturday morning. The one at Holly Lodge is located outside the entrance gate and is the only one that is available 24 hrs a day; there is a defibrillator sign on the sign post at the end of the drive leading to it so everyone passing should see it. The machines are designed to be used by anyone – you don't need training – and have clear spoken instructions. You can see how to use a defibrillator here.
Billions of ants are redesigning the Park’s landscape
As part of the Royal Parks’ “Mission Invertebrate” project, researchers have carried out a ground breaking study which estimates there are nearly half a million anthills in Richmond Park, housing approximately 3 billion ants, weighing some three quarters of a tonne – heavier than an African elephant. The anthills support an abundance of insects, animals, plants and fungi, vastly improving the grassland. Read more and see video.
Police Specials and body cameras
The Royal Parks police have been trying for a while to recruit Special officers for Richmond Park (Specials are part-time volunteers with the same training and powers as regular officers and wear the same uniform). The first Special has now started, another is in training and a third has just been recruited. They work at least 100 hours a year (many do much more) and we hope they can provide additional police resources for peak times. The Park's police also now have body cameras, which have already been useful in providing evidence of a dog chasing deer and identifying its owner.
Bird song talks
Although we are still in winter, some birds are already singing, mainly at this time of year to establish their future breeding territories. (A very good example being the many Robins in our gardens). With the approach of spring, Peter Burrows-Smith will be giving two courses on bird song as follows:
• Sat 17 Feb – Medium and Large birds (thrushes, woodpeckers etc)
• Sat 17 March – Small birds and Spring Migrants (tits, finches, warblers etc)
Starting at 10.15am at Pembroke Lodge, each course will comprise a talk indoors followed by a walk. Friends members only – no need to book, just turn up – coffee and tea provided.
Getting the Tread Lightly message into schools
Following the success of our film, Richmond Park: National Nature Reserve, and its 'Tread Lightly' conservation message, the Friends of Richmond Park is taking the film to schools, local clubs and societies providing a presentation and Q&A about the film and Tread Lightly. St Stephen's CE Primary in St Margaret's was the most recent school to host an assembly presentation for the whole school which saw 300 children absorbed in the film and asking questions about the wildlife and importance of conservation and Tread Lightly. If you know of a school or society which would like to host a similar event, please contact Richard Gray at email@example.com.
Some members have mentioned an apparent increase in trade vehicles driving through the Park in recent months. Part of this has been due to the police's reluctance to prosecute while there was inadequate signage warning trade drivers about entering the Park. New signage has now been installed and the police are again fining or prosecuting drivers.
We're delighted to thank our sponsors
We thank Russell-Cooke Solicitors and a new sponsor, Thames Water, for their support of Friends of Richmond Park. We have up to three sponsors (we hope to announce one more later this year) supporting the Friends and they each contribute £2,500 per year which goes into our funds for conservation and education. You will see their logos included on this bulletin, on our website and in a number of our other communications.
2018 Calendars reduced.
The Friends 2018 calendars are now reduced to £4, while stocks last. On sale at the Visitor Centre by Pembroke Lodge (open daily 11.00am – 3.00pm).
EVENTS CALENDAR 2018
Next 3 months
• 03 Feb Roehampton Gate Car Park
• 03 Mar Kingston Gate Car Park
• 07 Apr Sheen Gate Car Park (+ Walk the Wall)
All are welcome to join our walks. Start 10am from the designated car park unless detailed otherwise.
Informal birdwatching walks – Every Friday – meet at Pen Ponds car park coffee kiosk at 9.30am
• 17 Feb Bird Song 1: Medium/large birds in park (Peter Burrows-Smith)
• 17 Mar Bird Song 2: Small birds & Spring migrants (Peter Burrows-Smith)
• 21 Apr Buildings of Richmond Park (Max Lankester)
Friends’ members only – no need to book – just turn up. Courses start 10.15am at Pembroke Lodge, unless otherwise stated. (New members welcome – your friends can join here)
Richmond Park Diary February 2018
Wild Black Poplar (Populus nigra ssp. Betulifolia)
Wild Black Poplars are large trees with a thick, fissured trunk that have severely declined over the years, but can still be found in the north of Richmond Park and near to the Beverley Brook. As part of the Richmond Biodiversity Action Plan, The Royal Parks have been working to protect, maintain and enhance the current population. Hand pollination at Richmond Park took place a couple of years ago and the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, Wakehurst Place, recently undertook genetic testing of 26 individual seedlings, which confirmed they are of true black poplar progeny. These are the first plants that have been grown from seed, instead of cuttings, from the Park. The seedlings are now being grown on for a couple of years in our nursery at Isabella Plantation until they are big enough to be planted out in the Park, and also be protected from the grazing deer.
As part of the Mission Invertebrate Project, which is funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery, seven new scrapes were created across the Park and an existing scrape was re-dug near to Pen Ponds Plantation last month. Scrapes are shallow depressions in the ground with gently sloping edges, which may seasonally hold water. These features provide an important habitat for plant life and support a wide variety of aquatic, terrestrial and aerial invertebrates, including solitary bees and wasps, beetles, bugs and molluscs. Scrapes can also provide important feeding areas for breeding wading birds and their chicks so keep an eye out for these scrapes and what may be using them, whilst you wander around the Park.
Belted Galloway Cows
Four Belted Galloway cows will be returning this month to graze the 4-hectare paddock on Sawyer’s Hill, which is near to Holly Lodge. Cows were known to roam Richmond Park at least until 1943 and it is thought that their absence has contributed to the decline of species diversity of the grasslands. The cows will weaken the more vigorous grasses and coarser vegetation, create some bare ground and open up the sward, which will allow a more diverse and flower-rich sward to establish, which will also be of benefit to many invertebrates.
Bracken management and harrowing
Bracken dominates large areas of the Park and whilst it provides important cover for the deer and ground nesting birds, it also has the ability to smother more sensitive habitats such as the acid grassland. The bracken is cut, rolled with horse-drawn bracken rollers or sprayed in the summer months to control its spread and to prevent a dominant monoculture of bracken from establishing across the Park. This month, the shire horses will be preparing some additional areas and harrowing the dead bracken around Ham Cross, Pen Ponds and Holly Lodge. The harrowing will reduce the volume and ensure the areas are clear of logs and stumps so these areas can also be added to the rolling programme this summer.
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. Please remember that any decaying timber left on the ground is also home to many species. Using any timber to build a den destroys this vital habitat and is also against Royal Park regulations.
Approximately 200 deer are born every year so in order to maintain a healthy and sustainable population of 600 red and fallow deer of mixed ages and sexes in Richmond Park; the female deer are selectively culled in November and the male deer are selectively culled in February. Therefore the cull will begin on Monday 5th February for 6 weeks so please remember there will be no access to Richmond Park for cars, bicycles or pedestrians from 8pm to 7.30am each day.
“Please tread lightly in Richmond Park National Nature Reserve”
February in Isabella Plantation
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.
Three “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.
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.
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.
Isabella Garden Walks 2018
You are invited to join the gardeners for guided walks throughout the year.
Walks will take place on:
Friday 2nd & 23rd
Sunday 18th & 30th
Sunday 18th & 30th
Walks last about one and a half hours and are free of charge.
Meet inside the Garden by the gate from Broomfield Hill car park at 11.00a.m.