Photo: Litter by Sheen Gate
In the News:
- A surge in litter
- Cyclists return to the Park
- The truth about bats
- Trees photography competition – Summer
- Tree of the Month
- To build or not to build a den?
- TRP and FRP
- Database check
- Friends’ Quizzes a big hit
- NEW Short Walks
- Easing the Lock-down
- Dogs on leads/deer births
- Park toilets
- June in the Isabella Plantation
- Isabella Plantation 60 second video
A surge in Litter
The huge increase in visitors to the Park, attracted by warm weather and the freedom to roam during partial lock-down, have brought about a surge in the amount of rubbish being discarded. It’s a scar on the landscape and it’s hazardous to wildlife that may choke on it or become trapped inside it. Apart from leaving unwanted items on the ground, some visitors have tried to be helpful by leaving bags of rubbish next to the overflowing bins. This is not helpful because the rubbish is accessible to animals or birds, and it then becomes strewn around the area, making a bigger mess and exposing the dangerous contents.
The Royal Parks (TRP) has seven full-time people collecting litter from bins – see the photo – but the Friends Adopt an Area volunteer litter pickers are not operating during the lock-down. You can help by taking your litter home with you and asking friends and relations to do the same. Please follow our Tread Lightly rule to “Leave nothing behind” when you visit the Park.
Cyclists return to the Park
TRP is re-opening Richmond Park to cycling from tomorrow, Tuesday 2nd June, with restrictions. Cycling is permitted for all cyclists on early mornings (before 10am) and late afternoons (after 4pm) on weekdays, so that cyclists can commute to and from work and leisure cyclists can get exercise. No cycling is permitted at weekends. In addition, the roads from Kingston Gate to Roehampton Gate (called ‘red routes’ by TRP) will be closed to cyclists all the time.
The exception to these rules are key workers commuting to work, who will be permitted to cycle through the Park at any time, as now. Also excepted are under 12s., who will be able to cycle at any time on any roads, as now, and at any time on non ‘red-routes’ with accompanying adults on bikes.
The new rules are complicated but we think they strike a good balance between competing demands: on the one hand to re-open the Park to cyclists especially commuter cyclists, and on the other keeping the roads clear for the large number of visitors who now stroll along them, often with buggies or wheelchairs, and for the children who ride their bikes (and learn to ride them), creating a relaxed atmosphere.
Read full details here.
The truth about bats
In recent times, bats have received a bad press as a suspected source of Covid 19. However, there is so much more to bats than that. They are amazing creatures, found across the world, they’re the only true flying mammal, and one of our most misunderstood species. Here we introduce you to the different UK bat species found in the Park, along with some facts and information that may surprise you.
Trees photography competition: “Summer”
We are back! This competition is part of the Friends of Richmond Park’s 2020 The Year of the Tree. The overall theme is images that show the character of the Park’s trees. Images can be of any part of a tree, whole trees or groups of trees. Entrance is free. The competition is open now! Closing date 30 September.
Details of how to enter, including the prizes and Terms and Conditions.
Tips for photographing trees by expert tree photographers Len Jenshel and his partner Diane Cook.
(The Spring competition will be run in 2021, as it was cancelled because of Covid).
Tree of the month
Continuing with our tree of the month, for June it’s the Sweet Chestnut. This beautiful and majestic tree is not a native. It was imported from southern Europe, western Asia and North Africa, but looks perfectly at home in British parkland. Download a facts sheet from our Tree of the Month web page.
To build or not to build a den?
For some, den building is a popular pastime in woodlands, but is it a good idea to build dens in a national nature reserve like Richmond Park? Unfortunately the answer is NO. Logs and branches should be left on the ground and not propped up to form a den where they will dry out, become a fire hazard and no longer provide an essential habitat for insects. Read more here.
TRP and FRP
In many of our communications we use the abbreviations TRP and FRP. This may be confusing for some of our more recent Friends’ members. So here’s a brief run-down. The Royal Parks (TRP) are the charity responsible for managing all the 8 Royal Parks, including Richmond Park. Our own organisation, Friends of Richmond Park (FRP), also a charity, is independent of TRP and we have no powers regarding policy or operations in the Park. Our aim is to protect and conserve Richmond Park for the benefit of its wildlife and visitors, and educate the public about the Park. On some things, e.g. our volunteering and conservation projects, we work closely with TRP to achieve this aim. On other things, e.g. our walks/talks and our communications including the film, we work separately.
We also campaign independently on matters affecting the Park, including: successfully lobbying the Mayor to protect the sightline to St Paul’s cathedral, Heathrow flightpaths, gel pack litter and Tread Lightly. And we independently run educational projects such as Year of the Tree, and fundraising projects such as the sale of limited edition Royal Oak prints.
This month we will be checking the email database to make sure it corresponds with the membership database. If you are a paid up member and find that you are no longer getting the regular bulletins, then please contact Chris Mason on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friends’ Quizzes a big hit
We hope you enjoyed our weekly quizzes during April and May, and they provided a little relief during lock-down. There were over 200 informative and entertaining questions about the Park. How well did you do? We can tell you that there were more than 7,000 views of the quiz pages, an average of well over 800 views per quiz. In case you missed any of them, you can find them all here.
NEW Short Walks
In May we launched a new series of nine short, self-guided nature walks from Park gates is especially for those coming to the Park on foot. Each walk is around a mile long and they are mostly easy with gentle slopes. All nine walks are available for you to download free. See here.
During the lock-down many visitors have come to the Park in shorts and sandals. That together with the warm weather and plant growth provides good conditions for ticks and Lyme Disease. Please take extra care near long grass and bracken, especially with exposed skin. More information here, including our leaflet, and testimonials from Lyme disease sufferers Matt Dawson and Sophie Ward. Please help us to spread the word about the risks from ticks.
Richmond Park Diary – JUNE 2020
Easing the Lock-down
The Royal Parks continue to support government guidance in relation to Coronavirus restrictions. Since access to the countryside was increased to all day and any distance from home the park has witnessed an increase in visitors. On sunny weekends the number of picnickers across the landscape appears to be nearly double any ‘normal’ weekend. The volume of litter collected has been around 4-fold on the busiest weekends.
The Park is providing essential respite from the situation, but it is a struggle to cope with the increased pressure. Signs have been put out asking people to take litter home and not leave it next to full bins. We have also experienced an increase in glass and broken glass causing injury and fires because of picnickers. One fire destroyed around 100m2 of grassland and killed at least 5 reptiles. PLEASE BE SENSIBLE AND CONSIDERATE DURING THESE FRUSTRATING TIMES.
To help take the pressure off the public transport network and reduce the spread of coronavirus, measures to encourage cyclists to commute to work have been introduced to the park up until 10.00 am and after 16.00hrs on Mondays to Fridays. It is limited to essential routes and NOT allowed between Roehampton Gate and Robin Hood Gate, or between Robin Hood Gate and Kingston Gate. Access is allowed on an initial 2 week trial from 2nd June and monitoring equipment and stewards are deployed. Please see signs at gates for more detail.
Dogs on leads/deer births
The increased number of people visiting the quieter areas of the park resulted in several more cases of dogs chasing deer and deer being injured than normal. The deer started giving birth in mid-May and the young are vulnerable and do not walk for the first few days of life. The dry weather has also meant that Bracken growth is much slower than an average year and an overnight frost on 13th May killed off large patches of Bracken – resulting in less cover for baby deer. This ‘perfect storm’ of issues has resulted in an exceptionally difficult year for the deer and
The Royal Parks has therefore required all dogs to be kept on leads until Monday 6th July – by which time both the Red and Fallow deer young will be mobile and much less vulnerable. We appreciate this is frustrating to many dog walkers, but trust owners appreciate the difficulties and would not wish to cause deer distress or have their dogs distressed when the mothers defend their young.
The public toilets have been closed during lockdown and The Royal Parks are liaising with the cleaning and maintenance contractor to re-open some toilets. Some will open as soon as possible but visitors will understand the need to ensure staff are not from increased risk groups and can travel safely to and from work.
June in the Isabella Plantation
Here’s what’s happening in the Isabella Plantation this month:
The Birthday Mound
Digitalis purpurea ‘Alba’, the “White foxglove” is naturalised throughout this area which was planted in 2003 to celebrate Isabella’s 50th anniversary. This european native produces spikes of white bell-shaped flowers with a maroon spotted throat from a rosette of rich green leaves.
Along the Main Stream look out for Galax urceolata, a clump forming perennial with large, round, leathery, mid-green leaves which turn bronze in autumn. It has dense spikes of small, white flowers.
Look out for Neillia thibetica which grows opposite the Beauty Bush, Kolkwitzia amabilis, with its profusion of small foxglove-like pink flowers. This medium sized shrub has slender terminal racemes of pink, tubular flowers. Cornus kousa chinensis also grows in Wilson’s Glade, its numerous flowers which have conspicuous white bracts poised on slender stalks cover its spreading branches in June.
Flowering trees and shrubs
- Liriodendron tulipifera, the “Tulip Tree” stands at the Broomfield Hill Top Gate and other locations within the garden. As well as having odd shaped leaves which turn butter yellow in autumn. It has peculiar yellow-green flowers, with internal orange markings, which appear in June and are tulip-shaped.
- Calycanthus floridus, “Carolina Allspice” grows in the “V between the Streams”, this Californian species produces aromatic red-brown flowers throughout the summer months.
- Stewartia pseudocamellia, grows by the path above the Heather Garden. This deciduous tree bears five petalled white flowers with orange-yellow centres.
- Kalmia latifolia, which can be found where the path to the Still Pond crosses the Main Stream. It is an evergreen shrub, whose intricate pink flowers, when in bud, resemble ‘Iced Gem’ biscuits.
- Styrax japonicus, the “Snowbell Tree”, has a profusion of small white bell-shaped flowers dangling below its slender branches. One of several can be found in the bay to the east of Thompsons Lawn.
- Azaleodendron ‘Govenianum’ has trusses of funnel shaped lilac-purple flowers which are very fragrant. A group grows by the sandy path leading to the west of the Garden from the behind the iron ‘1831’ sign.