Monthly bulletin February 2022
Simon Richards, who has been Park Manager of Richmond Park for 25 years, will be resigning from the post at the end of May. He became Park Manager in 1997 and has successfully led the Park since then though all the major developments of that period. He will then work part time until at least the end of the year introducing his successor and working on various projects. We will recognise Simon’s immense contribution to the Park in our Summer printed newsletter.
Friends’ Let’s Discover trees in Winter
Discoverers FRP and Holly Lodge Education Centre, Richmond Park, are joining forces and they will hold a fun and free, children’s Winter Tree Trail over half-term, in Pembroke Lodge Gardens on Thursday 17th February, between 10am and 12noon. There will be hands-on activities and participants will have the opportunity to make a paper pot and plant a seed for a tree that they can then take home and look after.
This event is free, open to all families with children. Access is easy and buggy and wheelchair friendly.
Discoverers bird watching
Discoverers started the New Year with a spot of bird watching which coincided with the famous RSPB Big Birdwatch weekend. Families met by the pond on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning and there were treats in store: a macaw landed in the tree next to us as we were being welcomed on Saturday. On Sunday, a great-crested grebe was spotted in the distance but the highlights were the snipe which flew under our noses and a buzzard which circled above in a nearby field! This was a fun event enjoyed by children, parents and the volunteers who came along to help.
Help with flight path campaign
Many members will remember our campaign in 2019 against the proposed new flight paths over Richmond Park, which ended in March 2020 when COVID struck, just when we were about to have our fourth meeting with Heathrow. The ‘Airspace Modernisation’ process, as it is officially called, has now been resuscitated by the Civil Aviation Authority and Heathrow and we have restarted our campaign. We’d like to add two or three people to our team, either as advisors or as core members of the team understanding the process and assembling the Friends case. We’re particularly looking for people who:
- Are analytical and enjoy getting to grips with and investigating complex issues, or:
- Have some knowledge of or background in civil aviation, especially use of airspace, air traffic control and aircraft operations (for example a former pilot), or;
- Have some knowledge of government processes and consultations such as this
The work is intermittent, depending on the timetable of the ‘Airspace Modernisation’ process, and can be done from home with discussions by Zoom. If you’re interested in joining us, please contact email@example.com.
Firecrest © John Strachan
Little and Large
Two contrasting bird species have attracted attention recently. Unusually, several Firecrests, only marginally bigger than our smallest bird the Goldcrest, have taken up winter residence, establishing territories in their preferred habitat of holly and conifers. Come Spring they will migrate back to Northern Europe. At the other extreme, several Ravens seem to have occupied the Park for the last two months or more. Larger than Crows they have a wedge-shaped tail in flight and a massive bill. Look out for Ravens flying overhead or in the larger, more wooded areas, and listen for their loud, distinctive croaking calls. You may even be lucky enough to see them doing acrobatic aerial displays, particularly if they are courting. Once rarely if ever seen in the Park, with luck they may even breed here before too long.
Three new trustees have been appointed for the Friends. Judith Pearson, who has also become Secretary of the Friends, Helene Feger, who now leads our press relations, and Lucy Tarleton, who will lead the Events team.
Max Lankester has stepped down as a trustee and the Secretary and has been appointed a Vice-President again.
We welcome Judith, Helene and Lucy to their new roles and thank Max for serving as Secretary.
Marbled White butterfly © Simon Silvester
Get to know the Park’s butterflies!
The Park’s butterfly recorders are recruiting people to join their numbers for the coming season which begins in April. You do not have to be an expert – just enthusiastic about these beautiful members of our insect population. If you are interested finding out what is involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Adopt-an-Area litter picking scheme temporarily closed to new volunteers
The Adopt-an-Area (AaA) litter picking scheme has recently received so many new volunteers, particularly pupils volunteering as part of the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Scheme, that we have temporarily had to place new volunteers on a waiting list. Overall the number of new volunteers in Q4 2021 (37) exceeded the rest of 2021 and the whole of 2020. This trend continued in January with 25 new recruits (including DofE parents). This took the number of volunteers to comfortably over 200, which is currently enough given the Park’s early closing, the lower footfall and consequently far less litter to find. We remain grateful for the work of all our AaA volunteers and expect to re-open AaA to new recruits in the spring when many of the DofE volunteers will have signed off having completed the 3-4 months volunteering the DofE requires. This will put us in a good position for the increased litter that unfortunately we can expect in the summer.
On the 1st October 2021 at Wimbledon Magistrates Court a woman was fined £200 plus required to pay £200 costs and a £34 victim surcharge for dropping litter in Richmond Park.
The deer cull started on the 31st January, a week earlier than usual. It will continue for around four to six weeks. During this time the Park gates will be closed to pedestrians, cyclists and cars overnight.
Our free guided walks do not need to be booked ahead. Walks begin at 10am and finish around midday at the same car park or gate. Please keep dogs under control. The next walks are:
- 5th March 2022; walk is from Kingston Gate Car Park at 10.00am. Note: motor vehicle access only via Kingston, Ham or Richmond Gates.
- 2nd April 2022; walk is from Sheen Gate Car Park (+ walk the wall) at 10.00am. Note: motor vehicle access only via Sheen Gate.
Richmond Park Diary – February 2022
Protecting the birds of Pen Ponds island
In last month’s bulletin we reported that a number of large wicker baskets had been installed at Pen Ponds intended to tempt herons in advance of major works being planned. More information on this is now available on a blog on The Royal Parks website where Conservation Officer Tony Duckett explains the work and what he hopes it means for the herons and other birds that call Richmond Park home.
Isabella Plantation in February
TRP © Erica x darleyensis
Each month Jo Scrivener, Assistant Park Manager for Richmond Park, shares with us his plant dairy for Isabella Plantation.
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.