Monthly bulletin May 2022
Oystercatcher (left) © Nigel Jackman
Richmond Park can claim as many as thirty butterfly species, and recent warm spells have already seen the emergence of many of these beautiful, delicate insects. As we move through the Spring and Summer seasons look out for them in flight or settled on flowers, grasses, and brambles, and see how many you can identify. We have seen sightings of several birds uncommon to Richmond Park. These have included a Garganey (a rare summer-visiting duck from sub-Saharan Africa) a Little Gull and an Oystercatcher (pictured above), all only recorded in the Park a few times previously, and Lapwing, and Mediterranean Gull.
New Park Manager – Paul Richards
Paul Richards, who has most recently been Head of the Parks Service at the London Borough of Hillingdon, has been appointed Park Manager of Richmond Park. He takes over at the end of May from Simon Richards who has been Park Manager for the last 25 years. Paul, who was brought up in East Sheen, originally trained at Edinburgh Botanic Garden and subsequently worked at Wakehurst Place and the Natural History Museum, as well as Legoland at Windsor managing and delivering a wide range of landscape projects.
Dogs on leads
The Royal Parks has confirmed that from 1 May until 31 July 2022 dogs will be required to be on a lead in all areas of Richmond Park to protect both deer and dogs during the deer birthing season. Over the next few months, around 300 deer will be born in the parks. The season marks a vulnerable time for female deer, who hide their young in bracken and long grass to conceal them from dogs and other perceived predators.
Since the beginning of 2022, there have been over 50 incidents recorded of dogs chasing deer in Bushy and Richmond Parks. As many incidents go unreported, it’s expected that this figure is much higher. In March, The Royal Parks was alerted to over 26 separate incidents of dogs chasing deer, the highest number since they began keeping centralised records. During last year’s birthing season, when it was also compulsory to keep dogs on a lead, there was a 92% drop in incidents of dogs chasing deer in Richmond and Bushy Parks. Further information is here.
Radio Jackie with Pete Sturgess
Sgt Peter Sturgess, who is responsible for policing Richmond Park was recently interviewed on Radio Jackie. The interview, which you can listen to here provides an interesting insight into the policing challenges in Richmond Park.
Sir David Attenborough – Champion of the Earth
Sir David Attenborough with stag beetle © Julia Balfour
We are delighted that Friends patron Sir David Attenborough has received the Champions of the Earth Lifetime Achievement Award from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). This is for his dedication to research, documentation, and advocacy for the protection of nature and its restoration. Its an early birthday present for Sir David who is 96 on 8 May.
Its five years since we launched our film “Richmond Park National Nature Reserve” narrated by Sir David; its available on YouTube where about one thousand people watch it every day.
The Friends’ Annual General Meeting took place, via Zoom, on 23 April with around 80 attendees. After the formal approvals and elections of the officers and trustees there was a review of 2021 by our chairman Roger Hillyer including two short films and then questions and answers on a variety of park related topics.
Volunteering opportunities – website and bulletin
We are seeking support with our website and with producing this bulletin. This is a great opportunity to join a small communications team working on our important messages about Richmond Park. If you have knowledge and skills with WordPress and would like to help with our website or have knowledge and skills with Mailchimp and would like to help with this bulletin, please complete the volunteer application form. This form is available on the volunteering section of our website (ticking the ‘Other’ box and mentioning website or bulletin in the Comments box) and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discoverers event – Dawn chorus, 8th May
Owl © Monique Sarkany
Birds like to claim territory and make themselves known to other birds, this results in loud and rich birdsong which our Discoverers programme for families with school age children we will go and find in little woods near Pen Ponds kiosk. We will focus on our listening skills to identify who is around. Early start, but not as early as the birds!
Remember to wear appropriate footwear (beware of ticks who will be emerging by now, so cover your legs) and wear multiple layers! The only motor vehicle access to Pen Ponds Kiosk car park is by entering through Roehampton Gate. Binoculars will be available to borrow for the morning. Do e-mail email@example.com if you can and let us know you if you think you might be coming. We hope you can make it and really look forward to seeing you then. 7.30am start on the 8th May 2022 at Pen Ponds kiosk car park.
Journal of the Richmond Local History Society features Richmond Park
Detail of 1610 map showing area before Richmond Park’s enclosure. Surrey Described and Divided into Hundreds by John Speed (1610), Hearsum Collection MA0057.
The 2021/22 issue of Richmond History, the Richmond Local History Society’s annual journal, features two articles about Richmond Park.
Using extracts from historic maps drawn up over the past 400 years, Dr Robert Wood looks at what they can tell us about Richmond Park’s history. The six maps are illustrated in colour.
Timothy M M Baker provides details on his ground breaking research on a World War II radio observatory in Richmond Park which featured in the Friends 2021 summer newsletter.
Copies are available from the Society’s online bookshop (£7 post-free; £5 for Society members), from local independent bookshops and from the Museum of Richmond. The Visitor Centre sells copies of the Society’s book Richmond at War 1939-1945.
Beverley Brook litter collection
Stephen Russell © Litter pickers (L-R) Bill, Angela, Brian and David
A litter collection took place along Beverley Brook’s restored areas during April. The Friends volunteers didn’t wade in the water due to the oil spill but 2 full bin bags of litter and an old dustbin were removed. As usual there were dozens of bottles and cans and the ubiquitous plastic bags, crisp packets, bottle tops, shreds of bags and plastic. The next event will be in June.
Richmond Park’s ‘worst parking of the day’
© Royal Parks Police
Richmond Park police dealt with this parking on Saturday 9 April. According to officers, the driver was “locked in the park and became disorientated” on Friday night.
Visitor Centre – May 2022
Isabella Pathway © Toby Messer www.tobymesser-art.co.uk
In stock this month
- All jars of Richmond Park honey are in stock – small jars clear or set £7.50, large jars clear or set £12.00. Chunk honey with honeycomb £9.50 and pollen enriched £10.50.
- Back in stock are Field Study Nature Guides at £3.75 each. They include ladybirds, bees, birds of prey, butterflies, garden birds and trees and fungi.
- New Friends of Richmond Park greeting cards priced £2.00 each are due to arrive in early May and include the Royal Oak by Mark Frith and an Isabella Pathway artistic image courtesy of local artist Toby Messer, as pictured above.
Summertime opening hours
Visitor Centre opening times have now been extended for the summer to Monday – Sunday 10am – 4pm, subject to volunteer availability.
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:
- 7th May 2022: walk is from Broomfield Hill Car Park (Isabella) at 10.00am. Note: motor vehicle access only via Kingston, Ham or Richmond Gates.
- 4th June 2022: walk is from Pen Ponds Car Park at 10.00am. Note: motor vehicle access only via Roehampton Gate.
Isabella Plantation in May
Rhododendron ‘Bibiani’ © TRP
Each month Jo Scrivener, Assistant Park Manager for Richmond Park, shares with us his plant dairy for Isabella Plantation.
THE PEAK FLOWERING SEASON FOR RHODODENDRONS AND AZALEAS
RHODODENDRONS: On the lawn above Thomson’s Pond are two beds planted with the Japanese species, Rhododendron yakushimanum, amongst a group of its hybrids named after the Seven Dwarfs: Sneezy, Grumpy etc. These plants are compact and very floriferous. Also, seek out the tall ‘Loderi’ hybrid ‘King George’, with its large soft pink flowers which are sweetly fragrant. It grows in a number places in the Garden but most notably set back above the Still Pond. Follow the Small Stream down from the Still Pond to discover Rhododendron williamsiananum, a compact species with attractive bronze young shoots, distinctive heart shaped leaves and bell-shaped, shell-pink flowers. Look out for Rhododendron ‘Bibiani’ growing in a number of areas in the garden, this shrub produces compact trusses of rich crimson funnel shaped flowers with maroon spots.
EVERGREEN AZALEAS: Easy to identify are: ‘Orange Beauty’, the most orange of all ‘Rosebud’, opening buds resemble tiny roses ‘Palestrina’, white with a faint ray of green ‘Vuyk’s Scarlet’, large flowers of a deep silky red ‘Hinode Giri’, bright crimson, around the Still Pond.
DECIDUOUS AZALEAS: These flower slightly later and often have a rich spicy smell, particularly Azalea pontica, (Rhododendron luteum), which is yellow and to be found by the gate to Broomfield Hill.
THE BOG GARDEN: Look out for Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’, growing in the bed by the middle pond it bares orange-red flowers and has a reddish tinge to the emerging young shoots. Alongside the margins of pools and streams grows the “Japanese Primrose”, Primula japonica ‘Millers Crimson’ with its whorls of crimson flowers which are borne in profusion on tall stems, from May to July. Also present are the young fronds of the “Shuttlecock Fern”, Matteuccia struthiopteris which show an attractive fresh green. Growing either side of the main pool is the “Ornamental Rhubarb”, Rheum Palmatum a robust herbaceous perennial with broad, architectural foliage and pink flowers on large erect panicles.
The native tree the “Whitebeam”, Sorbus aria grows near the Broomfield Hill gate and looks particularly attractive at this time of the year with its silvery-white young leaves. Skimmia japonica can also be found growing near this gate along the path that leads onto Camellia Walk and the Still Pond
The “Foxglove Tree”, Paulownia tomentosa stands in the glade between the Still Pond and Old Nursery Glade. This large leaved tree bares sprays of fragrant foxglove-like pinkish-lilac flowers in Spring.
The “Pocket Handkerchief Tree”, Davidia involucrata, set back from the Camellia Walk, has intriguing white hanging bracts. Another specimen may be found in a secluded lawn to the southeast of Thomson’s Pond.
The “Snowdrop Tree”, Halesia carolina, with dangling white bell flowers, stands by the path above Thomson’s Pond.
Cornus nuttallii, whose white bracts appear like flowers, can be found set back in the newly planted Magnolia Glade near the Ham Gate entrance. Also look out for the pale lemon yellow fragrant flowers of Magnolia wilsonii ‘Yellow Fever’ and the wonderful deep purple flowers ofMagnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’.
Bluebells carpet the wilder fringes of the Garden. Please keep to the paths to avoid trampling them.
WHEELCHAIR AVAILABLE. A motorised wheelchair, which makes the job of pushing considerably easier, may be loaned for use within the Garden on weekdays between 9.00 and 15.00. Please ring 0300 061 2200 to book the chair by noon on the day before it is required.