Picture left:  The Friends Conservation team at work – Lower Pen Pond June 2024

Action stations – Lower Pen Pond

You may have noticed the extreme drop of the water level in the lower Pen Pond. This is temporary while the exit tunnel under the main causeway between the ponds is being repaired. A large amount of previously submerged wood has been revealed. The Royal Parks wanted this removed to avoid the possibility of it blocking the outflow from the lower pond. While some wood in water is beneficial to wildlife there was too much.

A Friends conservation team was quickly arranged to clear the wood on 24th June taking advantage of the low water level. We were looking forward to walking along the exposed pond edge to gather the wood but there was an emergency over the weekend which required water from the upper pond to be released into the lower pond. We were greeted by a very full pond and no dry “strand” to stroll along!

As we were there, we decided to get started and clear what we could. We had four people in waders who fished wood out of the pond. Another seven people on dry land filled big bags with the wet wood and with the buggy the wood was moved into a large trailer provided by The Royal Parks. When it was full we decided our job was finished for the day. It was time for refreshments and a choice of homemade cakes.

All equipment that had been in the water had to be cleaned. Mud was washed off footwear and gloves taken off site to be washed. There is a notifiable weed, Crassula helmsii, in the ponds which must not be carried to other ponds or streams.

Bonuses included working in the sunshine, seeing a hobby flying over the pond and watching some very large carp thrashing around. It is their spawning season and the warm water really made for some lively activity.

Pen Ponds causeway footpath closed

The repair and maintenance work required on the overflow system between Upper and Lower Pen Ponds described above means that the Pen Ponds causeway footpath is currently closed. The work is required to be carried out in accordance with the Reservoirs Act 1975. An alternative route is available around Lower Pen Pond. Please note that this route is unsurfaced and uneven in parts.

Beverley Brook Litter Clearance

The Friends Beverley Brook Litter Clearance Team June 2024

The Friends Beverley Brook litter clearance team had a good day on 3rd June. They started by clearing the deer gates at Roehampton of all the wood and other green material that had been trapped. They collected about 100 bottles, cans and plastic cups. At least six footballs and a large oil can, which was around half full, were also removed from the Robin Hood Gate deer gates.

Ham Fair

The Friends at Ham Fair

We had a successful and enjoyable day at Ham Fair on 8th June. We were lucky with the weather – the one short, sharp shower didn’t stop the flow of visitors. We had a number of items from the Visitor Centre for sale, with total takings of over £400 for the day, the most popular item being the Richmond Park Honey – a couple of stall visitors wanted to purchase jars before we’d even finished setting up the stall! There were several enquiries regarding membership.

A big thank you to the volunteers from the Events and Visitor Centre teams who helped out on the day.

Breeding Firecrests

Photograph: John Strachan

Europe’s smallest bird, the Goldcrest, is a resident breeder in the Park. By contrast its marginally larger cousin, the Firecrest, had been regarded in the Park as a rare visitor and passage migrant. However, in recent years it has been seen regularly in two of our woodland areas. A winter presence raised hopes of a first breeding record and this was confirmed in June when two juveniles were seen with an adult. Hopefully this good news story will  be repeated in the coming years.

The BBC hunts for ticks in Richmond Park

Woodland and parks with deer such as Richmond Park can attract ticks. The BBC Inside Health programme recently went on a tick hunt in Richmond Park accompanied by a medical microbiologist from the University of East London.

Ticks are small creatures, related to spiders and mites, that feed on the blood of animals and sometimes people. Ticks can survive in many places but prefer slightly moist, shady areas such as bracken, bushes and leaf litter. They can be found in both long and short grass. Ticks can’t jump or fly, so they have to wait until an animal (or human) brushes past to attach to their skin. The tick population peaks between spring and autumn (March to October).

Lyme disease or Lyme borreliosis, is a bacterial infection spread by infected ticks. Human infection is uncommon, because only a small proportion of ticks have the infection. However, those ticks that may carry Lyme disease are common in the countryside, especially woodlands and parks with deer, such as Richmond Park.

Please see the Government advice on tick bites and the prevention of Lyme disease for more information. Tick bite risks and prevention of Lyme disease: resources – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

BBC News article: Tick attack: BBC hunts for tiny bloodsuckers as diseases rise – BBC News