Photo: ‘Halloween’ Heron by Nigel Jackman
- Q & A with Simon Richards
- Car parking charges update
- 2021 Calendar and Christmas cards
- Visitor Centre – New Opening Hours
- Autumn Tree Photography Competition
- October’s Tree of the Month
- New! Walks with remarkable trees – Set 2
- Cleaning Beverley Brook
- Adopt an Area
- Guided Walks return
- Deer rut
- Fatal deer attack
- Getting our messages out
- Autumn bird count
- A hot Summer’s day in September
- Oak bush crickets
- Water leaks
- Michaelmas Daisies
- Isabella Plantation in October
Q & A with Simon Richards, Park Manager – on Zoom
We’re delighted that Richmond Park’s Manager, Simon Richards, has kindly agreed to answer questions from Friends’ members in an exclusive one hour live Zoom session on Thursday 15th October, 18.00 – 19.00. FRP Chairman, Ron Crompton, will chair the Q&A which we expect will cover a wide range of subjects including Richmond Park during the pandemic; the through traffic trial and car parking charges; conservation projects and visitor behaviour.
After a few questions from the chair, the session will be opened up to members to ask their own questions. To ask a question, participants will use the ‘chat’ feature during the session.
The Zoom video conferencing platform, used extensively by many of us over the last six months, is straight forward and FREE to use. If you’ve not done so already, you’ll need to register with and download Zoom and we strongly suggest that you familiarise yourselves with its functions. https://zoom.us/download. We plan to record the Q & A so that it can be available for later viewing.
Please note that this event is for Friends members only. To book your FREE place in the Q&A, you need to reserve through Eventbrite here. You will be sent the Zoom link nearer the date.
Car parking charges consultation update
TRP’s eight-week consultation on its proposals for car parking charges in Richmond (and Bushy) Parks ends on 1 November. After much consideration (and more debate!) we’ve reached a view on the Friends’ submission to the consultation, which may be helpful to our members in deciding their own submission.
As a reminder, TRP’s proposals are:
- Charges of £1.40/hour Monday-Saturday and £2/hour on Sunday
- Applicable from 9am to 6pm, whenever the car parks are open
- A maximum of 6 hrs parking in any one car park
- Blue Badge holders will be exempt from paying
- The money will go to the upkeep of related park infrastructure.
TRP will use the present voluntary donation machines and install more; all machines will take cash and credit cards. It is not clear what the enforcement will be.
Over 70 Friends’ members have sent us their views, with a small majority in favour; the main concern of those against is the high cost for a regular user. Facebook and NextDoor have also been full of comments.
Our view is that car parking charges are a reasonable way to tackle car park congestion at week-ends and bank holidays, reduce week-day commuter parking in Kingston Gate and Pembroke Lodge car parks and fund the traffic-related infrastructure of the Park (allowing current spending on car parks to be re-allocated to maintaining green spaces). It also provides income for TRP at a time when their finances are under great strain and encourages more non-car travel to the Park (see next item).
However, we think there should be some changes to the proposals.
The most important is that there should be some mechanism to reduce the cost for regular visitors. We understand the view that says “why should a regular visitor pay less per visit than an occasional visitor?” But someone taking exercise once a day for an hour and a half will pay a very substantial sum a year in parking charges under TRP’s proposals. Two options seem sensible. Either there should be a ‘season ticket’ available to anyone, not just local residents, that gives a discount on charges for an annual fee. Or, since the season ticket is expensive to administer, the charges should apply for only, say 10 to 4 on weekdays, to enable regulars to visit before or after the charges apply.
There should also be three more detailed changes:
- The Saturday charge should be £2/hour to combat the congestion in car parks, which is as bad on Saturdays as it is on Sundays, if not worse
- Volunteers should have free parking when they are on duty
- Proceeds should be in a restricted account for Richmond Park only
Read more here and find the Consultation Questionnaire (5 questions) and email address for responses. Consultation closes 1st November.
The Royal Parks financial position
Some comments about the proposed car parking charges see The Royal Parks (TRP) as being owned and funded by the Queen or the government and therefore having no need for the income from the charges. In fact, while the Royal Parks are owned by the Crown, TRP is an independent charity that manages them on behalf of the government. It receives 15-20% of its £40m income from government but the rest comes from its commercial operations.
This year TRP has lost about 80% of this commercial income due to COVID-19. Its big events (the Hyde Park summer concerts, Winter Wonderland, the Half Marathon and Ride London) have been cancelled, other sources (e.g. catering, charges for filming and car parking) are well down and only a few (e.g. rental of lodges) are at normal levels. It has kept all the Parks open, so while it has been able to furlough some staff and cut a few costs, it has made big losses and used up most of its reserves. Even when COVID-19 is over, it will take time for the income to recover and TRP will need to re-build its reserves so some financial difficulties will remain for 2-3 years.
Richmond Park’s finances are similarly dire. Income from Pembroke Lodge weddings and café, other catering and commercial running events is well down, with only rental of lodges holding up. Meanwhile some costs have increased during COVID-19 such as litter picking and managing the lockdown restrictions.
Richmond Park 2021 Calendar and Christmas Cards
The Richmond Park Calendar is more than just a calendar! Our 2021 edition has 45 beautiful photos of the Park and its wildlife. A pleasure throughout the year and a wonderful gift or memento. Wall calendar, stapled, punched hole, size when open: width 29.7cm, height 42.0cm. On FSC-certified paper. Price £8.50
Richmond Park Christmas Cards show beautiful images of the wildlife and scenery of Richmond Park. Packs of 8 of one design. Plastic free packaging and glitter free card on FSC-certified paper. Size 14cm x 14cm. Price per pack £4.50.
Visitor Centre – New Opening Hours
During October the Visitor Centre, Volunteers permitting, will be opened Thursday – Sunday between 10h00 – 16h00. The opening hours will change to 11h00 – 15h00 once the clocks have gone back at the end of October. The opening days for November will be reviewed towards the end of October. Christmas gift ideas
New Christmas cards (see below)
Tree walks – 2 sets now available, featuring 4 fabulous walks in each set, with photos and descriptions of the trees en route. £5 per set
The Royal Oak print by Mark Frith – an exclusive for Friends of Richmond Park £30
The ever popular Year of Tree tea towel £7
A New range of Friends greeting cards.£2
And many more gift items
Autumn Tree Photography Competition
The overall theme is images that show the character of the Park’s trees. Photos can be of any part of a tree, whole trees or groups of trees. Entrance is free. See here for details of how to enter, the prizes and Terms and Conditions. This competition is one of a series that we are running in 2020 – one for each season – to celebrate the Park’s trees.
Maples – October’s colourful Tree of the Month
This factsheet, and all the others in the series, are free to download from our website. Watch out for a different tree on the 1st of every month for the rest of the year.
New! Walks with Remarkable Trees – Set 2
Set 1, with walks from the northern car parks, is still available and has been very popular – we have received lots of excellent feedback; ‘Brilliant, well written, superbly laid out, good levels of information.’
- Walk 5 Field Maple Robin Hood Gate car park 5.3km
- Walk 6 Eleven Woods Pen Ponds car park 5.1km
- walk 7 Giant Redwood Broomfield Hill car park 3.4km
- Walk 8 Medieval Oaks Kingston Gate car park 4.3km
Plastic-free cover, packed in an attractive and sturdy string and washer envelope.
£5 per set of 4 walks. Read more.
Cleaning Beverley Brook
On an extremely warm September day the Friends Beverley Brook litter volunteers were out in force again. The Brook was running well but very shallow in parts in the unrestored stretches. 5 large black bags were filled, including 54 plastic and glass bottles 42 cans.
Most of the rubbish, as ever, is in other forms: for example, plastic bags (shredded or whole), fabrics, VHS tape cassette, length of hose pipe, a number plate, a small metal chassis (or something like that), bicycle seat, a shoe, large seed tray and all sorts of other things. The amount of plastic waste is still staggering. Bottles and cans continue to feature as they are washed downstream but also because people throw them into the Brook.
Adopt an Area
After a successful comeback from lockdown, the Adopt an Area volunteer litter team is going strong, with new recruits almost every week. There are now 130 litter volunteers, including many Duke of Edinburgh Award students and their parents. The Park is looking much tidier again, thanks to the hard work of the full time contractors and our army of volunteers.
Guided Walks return
The Friends’ Guided Walks restarted on 3rd October, with the first walk from Sheen Gate Car Park. The next walk will be on Sat 7th Nov, meet at 10.00am Pembroke Lodge Car Park. Social distancing will be maintained. Please check the website in advance in case of any changes https://www.frp.org.uk/walks/
These walks are also open to non-Friends members.
Photo by Jules Cox Wildlife Photography
The deer are now establishing their territories for the rut, which continues throughout October. The male deer can be very aggressive and walkers are advised to take care and remember the 50 metre rule. Dog walkers are advised to keep dogs on leads.
Fatal deer attack
On Saturday 12 September there was a fatal deer attack in Richmond Park. The Royal Parks issued the following statement:
- “We can confirm that on Saturday morning a young deer in Richmond Park was attacked by a dog and sadly died. The police attended the scene and took details of the man walking the dog, and a full investigation is underway.
- We take the welfare of our deer very seriously. Our message is clear; if you cannot control your dog then always ensure it is on a lead. Otherwise dog walkers may face prosecution.
- If you witness a dog chasing a deer, immediately call the on-call police for Richmond and Bushy Parks on 07920 586 546.
- The incident is in breach of the Royal Parks regulations below. Regulations are enforceable by the police.
- No person using a Park shall: 4 (21) cause or permit any animal or bird of which he is in charge to chase, worry or injure any other animal or bird.”
Update: a 68 year old Kingston man has been charged over the dog attack and will appear at Wimbledon Magistrates Court on 29/12/20. The dog has not been seized by police as no member of the public was attacked.
Getting our messages out
We are getting our messages out to more and more people through our various communication channels:
- Thousands of visitors in our Visitor Centre every year, where they can get useful information about the Park and obtain our many publications and souvenirs.
- A newsletter, 3 times a year, is posted to all members; and coming soon an option to receive it online.
- 3,000 members receive our eBulletin every month
- 8,000 hits per month on our website, and we now have an online sales channel
- 12,000 followers on Facebook, and followers share our posts on their own Facebook pages, which extends our reach considerably. For example, the above fatal deer attack story reached 52,000 people!
- 1,400 followers on Instagram @friendsrichmondpark
- 2,200 followers on twitter @FRPTweets
We have featured many times in national and local newspapers and on ITV News, such as when we have major campaigns like Heathrow flight paths, litter and St Paul’s view. We have also produced successful films to get our message across – our award winning tread lightly film, ‘Richmond Park: National Nature Reserve’, featuring Sir David Attenborough, has been broadcast many times on London Live TV and has been viewed 220,000 times through YouTube. We have also made other successful short films such as ‘Richmond Park: Stop the flightpaths’ and ‘Year of the Tree’
Autumn bird count
A fabulous count of 69 species of birds was achieved in the Park on Saturday 26th September during the sixth annual Autumn Bird Count, overtaking the 2016 record of 65. Swallows, House and Sand Martins, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Reed Warbler now migrating from our shores were seen, as were over-wintering Siskins newly arrived. Raptors spotted were Buzzard, Sparrow hawk and Kestrel, but Peregrine and Red Kite declined to make an appearance.
The bird of the day was a Great White Egret, seen flying over a corner of the Park, and another highlight was a Jack Snipe (a small cousin of the Common Snipe) seen briefly at Pen Ponds.
Great White Egret by Nigel Jackman
A hot summer’s day in September
Nigel Jackman shot this short video (with zoom lens) of deer cooling off in Beverley Brook.
Richmond Park Diary
Oak bush crickets
They are common in parks, woods and gardens and our only truly arboreal species of grasshopper or cricket. The nymphs hatch in June and spend their nocturnal lives high in the canopy of oak trees making them hard to see. The females will come down lower in the tree in autumn looking for somewhere suitable to lay eggs and its then that may be found lower down on the trunk or on the ground nearby if dislodged by Autumn winds.
underneath the park there are miles and miles of services including telephone lines, electricity, sewers, ground water drains and water mains. They all need to be maintained and repaired if they break. The sewer between Pembroke Lodge and Petersham Gate becomes blocked on a regular basis so this summer contractors surveyed the pipe with cameras to find tree roots had broken the old ceramic pipes and dislodged it in places. These were remedied and an additional service cover was installed for future maintenance.
More recently a water main burst on Crown Field between the rugby pitches and White Lodge causing a very large muddy hole and stream of water. This was easy to repair because it was evident where the leak was but over the years the Royal Parks and contractors have placed water meters on all the mains and gradually tracked down leaks that have been trickling into the ground water for years. They have at last all been located, which is much less wasteful, saves money and is better for the park’s ecology.
These are a non-native flower that blooms in late summer and can be seen in Pembroke Lodge gardens. They get their name because they are in full bloom around Michaelmas Day (29th September) providing a late nectar source for insects. Traditionally Michaelmas Day marks the end of summer and more interestingly the end of one farming year and the start of the next. So, this means that all the crops should be in by 29th September, and October should be the start of preparing the ground for next years’ crops.
Curiously, tradition dictates that Michaelmas Day is the last day to eat blackberries. This comes from the Christian story that the archangel Michael defeated the angel Lucifer and banished him from heaven at which point he became the devil. When he landed on the floor of hell, he painfully landed in a blackberry bush full of thorns where he cursed the fruit, spitting, breathing fire and urinating on them. So, if you do choose to eat blackberries in October, they may taste sour with the Devil’s wee!!
This is a very important month, as the deer will be rutting so you will probably hear the stags bellowing across the Park trying to attract as many females as possible. Please respect the deer and this natural behaviour by keeping at least 50 meters away from them and do not touch, feed or photograph the deer at close range. Keep your dogs away or consider walking elsewhere.
Isabella Plantation in October
This month we are telling you about what’s happening in the Isabella Plantation in a slightly different way. Here’s a link to the Royal Parks’ October plant diary which includes a fabulous PDF leaflet to download, with beautiful photos of all of the plants. We think you’ll like it and find it a very good read.
Hamamelis mollis (Chinese Witch Hazel) ©TRP