Photo: Swans at Pen Ponds by Paula Redmond

A Happy New Year to all our Readers!

Please spread the ‘Tread Lightly’ message in 2019.

Diary Dates

  • 05 Jan Friends’ Walk. Meet at 10.00am at Robin Hood Gate Car Park.
  • 12 Jan Friends’ Talk & Walk. ‘Birds of Richmond Park’ – an all-new presentation (Peter Burrows-Smith).
  • 13 Apr Friends’ AGM at King’s House School, Richmond.

Help run the Visitor Centre

We need a volunteer to become part of the team of four people managing the Visitor Centre, focusing on the day-to-day running of Centre. The role is to:

  • 1) Support the volunteers undertaking the information and merchandise-related activities and ensure that those activities continue without problems.
  • 2) Ensure that the centre is adequately staffed. The Visitor Centre volunteers are largely long-serving and very experienced, with low turnover, but there still needs to be a sufficient pool of volunteers, they need to be trained, and they need to volunteer enough to enable the centre to open during the scheduled hours.
  • 3) Represent the visitor centre in contacts with the Friends, Pembroke Lodge and Park personnel; the person could also be a trustee of the Friends.
  • 4) Organise the centre’s participation in ad hoc events, often where the Centre has a stall; there is typically one of these a year.

The time required is likely to vary but is expected to be about three hours per week on average. The other three members of the team manage the selection and purchase of merchandise, the stocking of information leaflets and notices and all the computer-related data.

The Visitor Centre is not only a valued source of information for visitors but it also contributes significantly to Park funds. This post is key to ensuring that it can continue at its current level.
If you are interested, please contact Ron Crompton at . For an informal chat regarding what is involved, please contact Mary Davies at or 07929 980213.

Volunteer Rangers

The Royal Parks are looking to recruit 20 volunteers for the first stage of their Volunteer Community Ranger trial. The Friends have worked closely with TRP on the scheme and we are delighted it is going ahead. The trial will start in Richmond and Bushy Parks. Between April and October, the Community Rangers will aim to improve the visitor experience in both Royal parks by educating visitors on the wildlife and history of the parks and giving tips on how to protect them. Volunteers need to be over 18 and must be able to commit one day a fortnight (on a weekend), between April and October. Full training will be given.

If you are interested in applying or would like more information click here. Applications close 20th January 2019.

Closure of Two Storm Wood

The wood will be closed from 7th January for four weeks, except at week-ends, to allow work to enhance habitat and improve growing conditions. For more information see the Park Diary further down the page.

RP Film tops 100,000 on YouTube

Our award-winning film presented by David Attenborough, chalked up the 100,000th viewing on YouTube last month. In fact many more than that have watched the film as this only represents the number of computers it’s been viewed on and not repeat or multiple viewings. Also, during December London Live TV showed the film on Christmas Day, 28th December and on New Year’s Eve proving its enduring popularity and the Together community TV channel also shows it regularly. Since the film was launched in April 2017, we estimate that well over 500,000 people have now seen the film and its important Tread Lightly conservation messages.

Golf ball auction.

The Friends’ Beverly Brook clean up team recovered almost 200 golf balls, plus lots of other rubbish, when they waded in to give the brook a thorough once over. In conjunction with the Richmond Park Golf Club, the golf balls are now being auctioned and a donation will be made to the Friends. See here for more information and to make a bid (before 31st January).

Park Opening Hours 2019.

Full list of vehicle gate opening hours for 2019. Pedestrian gates are open 24 hours, except during the 6 week culls starting in February and November when they are open 7.30am till 8.00pm.

Great teamwork locates lost camera.

At the end of the recent hedgehog survey carried out by Friends’ volunteers, with ZSL London Zoo, a camera that had been set up in one of the many locations in the park could not be found, and was presumed lost… That is until one of our meticulous Adopt an Area litter pickers (Brendan Blake) uncovered the missing camera, intact in the undergrowth, when patrolling his area. Great conservation project and great teamwork with AaA.

Friends 2019 Calendar. Now Sold Out!

The ever popular Friends’ calendar has been so successful it has completely sold out, making a great contribution to park conservation projects.

Events Calendar

All are welcome to join our walks. Start at 10.00am from the designated car park unless stated otherwise.
• 05 Jan Robin Hood Gate Car Park
• 02 Feb Roehampton Gate Car Park
• 02 Mar Kingston Gate Car Park

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

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.
Usually 45-60 minutes, followed by an optional 90 minute walk, unless otherwise indicated.
• 12 Jan Birds of Richmond Park – an all-new presentation (Peter Burrows-Smith)
• 16 Feb Swans (Gemma Nelson).
• 16 Mar Richmond Park During the Wars (Diana Loch). Talk only.

Richmond Park Diary January 2019

Road closure from 14 January

The Park road between Roehampton car park and Robin Hood roundabout was closed before Christmas so that an underground fence could be installed to exclude badgers from tunnelling under the road. This work was conducted under a special license from Natural England and had to be done before the badger breeding season. Ground penetrating radar surveys indicated 12 cavities and tunnels under the road and sure enough the work revealed the extent of the badger’s activities! The road does now need to be close again so that the cavities can be safely filled in and the road resurfaced. Cyclists will need to detour on the Tamsin Trail and motorists driving through the park will need to travel via the west side of the park.

Park visitors will still be able to access the car parks but the route to Broomfield Hill, Robin Hood and Pen Ponds car parks is only available via the southern end of the park. The closures are scheduled 14th – 28th January but please observe signs on site.

The Little Owl

It is relatively common in Richmond Park and can often be seen on wet winters’ evenings, sat on the road posts before flying off when they detect a cyclist or car approaching. They feed on short grass, looking for worms, insects or small mammals. They can live for up to 15 years or so and, with the males occupying the same territory for life, it’s not unusual to see them in the same location on repeated occasions. They are partially diurnal and will sit in bold positions on tree branches during the day. However, their grey and black markings blend perfectly with sun bleached dead oak making them difficult to spot.

Little owls were introduced to the UK in the 19th century with their natural range being widespread across Europe, Asia and North Africa. In human culture Little Owls are closely associated with the Greek Goddess Athena – the goddess of the night and their call was thought to herald the murder of Julius Caesar.


Mistletoe is very abundant in Bushy Park but strangely only one example is known about in Richmond Park – on a lime tree close to Petersham Gate. Locally there is a species action plan, recognising the desirability to make it more abundant in the borough. A few clumps have been propagated on 2 apple trees in a non-public area and they now supply an annual crop of berries to propagate elsewhere. This winter, 10 apple trees will be planted at the park office, Holly Lodge and are the best host for the second generation of mistletoe.

For best results berries are picked in February and March and used straight away. (Berries left over after Christmas tend to have dried out in our homes, making them less sticky and then must wait a few months before they germinate – by which time they are likely to have been washed off a tree). The berries are simply squashed onto the branches and the seeds are naturally stuck by the sticky flesh. In the spring a tiny green haustorium emerges from the seed and penetrates the bark.

It takes a good few years for the mistletoe to generate but once established it grows quickly and produces berries. If too much mistletoe develops on a tree and isn’t cut back periodically, it starts to turn yellow and can kill the host tree. Whilst apple and other rosaceous species are its favoured host, mistletoe will propagate to a lesser extent on limes and hawthorns and very rarely on oak trees.

Two Storm Wood closure

The wood will be temporarily closed on weekdays from January 7th for approximately 4 weeks, but still be open at weekends. Work to enhance habitat and improve growing conditions will take place in several phases over the next few years. This first phase is to remove self-seeded trees and regeneration that is gradually taking over the Wood. It does not include work to commemorative trees, either tagged or untagged.

Donors of commemorative trees who know where their tree is planted should contact the park office as soon as possible (if they have not already done so) by emailing or calling 0300 061 2200. Anyone wishing to visit a commemorative tree during the week can contact the park office.

January in Isabella Plantation

Heather Garden

Erica x darleyensiscomes 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.

The “Sacred Bamboo’, Nandina domestica, 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.

Flowering shrubs

Hamamelis mollis, the “Witch Hazel”, has fragrant yellow tassel flowers. Two large shrubs stand by the gate to Broomfield Hill. Another hybrid variety, called ‘Jelena’, has ginger coloured flowers and grows in the woodland ride to the west of the garden.

Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’ grows close to the Top gate and also set back in the glade behind Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’. It produces semi-double, white flowers intermittently throughout the winter months.

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’, also beside the Acer Glade path, has small rose-purple flowers.

Isabella Garden Walks 2018/2019

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

Sunday 20th
Friday  25th

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.