|Horticulture & Wildlife 2011|
Taskforce 4 Nature
In conjunction with Groundwork London, the Park welcomes volunteers on the third Saturday every month, starting 18 February, between 10.30 am and 3.00 pm. Come for as long as you can. Tea, gloves, tools and instruction will be given, but wear sturdy shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty. Bring your own waterproofs and lunch! Meet at the cafeteria at 10.30 am or call Moira Herring on the day on 07879 078101. For further information call Moira on 0208 743 3040 or email email@example.com
|Of Mice and Muntjac||
The Borough commissioned a survey of mammals (excluding bats which have their own survey) in all its parks, which they intend to repeat at ten-yearly intervals. The results are now in but, not surprisingly perhaps, mainly negative. Holland Park has the most species, which include the yellow-necked mouse and the more common wood mouse though there are six other kinds of hoped-for mouse, shrew and vole of which there was no sign. Not for lack of trying, traps, carefully designed to make any captured animal secure and comfortable until released, were placed along transept lines, and the researchers sought diligently by daylight and torchlight along the same lines for footprints, hair or scats. No sign of hedgehogs anywhere in the borough. There is a badger sett in Holland Park but the builders moved out many years ago and even the foxes no longer use the sett as an earth, having found more convenient quarters in neighbouring gardens. (Closer to dustbins?) The foxes do still visit Holland Park, and the resident grey squirrels are estimated to be between 50 and 100. The one real surprise was a muntjac slot. It would be charming to see a muntjac emerging from cover at dusk or returning at dawn, but deer can be terribly destructive of gardens, and if they ever became established in the park would spark a lively discussion about how to get rid of them. Meanwhile we can all listen for a sound between a cough and a bark from the heart of our thickets to tell us one is present.
To read the survey report in full, go to www.rbkc.gov.uk/ecology
|Moorhens and Mallards||
Not a bad year for our moorhens overall, given, among other things, the work on the Kyoto Garden including the draining of the pond. April began on Kyoto with one additional adult to our resident pair, and by mid-April six chicks had appeared. By the beginning of May the chicks were down to three, and so they remained until the closure of the garden towards the end of June. When the garden reopened in July only two juveniles were seen but the third could have moved elsewhere. The Kyoto pond was also home from about October last year until May to a large, white domestic duck. It was very aggressive towards mallards but tolerant of moorhens. At the end of May it (sorry, I don’t know its sex) decided to move to the youth hostel pond.
On the wildlife pond five moorhen chicks hatched at the beginning of May, down to three a month later. These three matured and were joined in early July by a second brood of three, reduced to two a few days later, and these two seem to have survived.
On Lord Holland’s pond the resident pair were, as usual, late starters and were not seen sitting until the end of June. It was not until mid-August that two chicks appeared, still there at the time of writing in early September. In mid-May five mallard ducklings had hatched on Kyoto but were gone within two days. And in early June nine mallard ducklings were seen on the wildlife pond but they too had gone in a matter of days. In mid-July, however, five ducklings appeared on Lord Holland’s pond and, at the time of writing, now fairly mature, had moved to the wildlife pond.
I am again indebted to Michael Martyn-Johns for information about the youth hostel moorhens. They have had a good year: two broods of six chicks and, although only three of the first brood survived, they helped to feed the second brood (classic moorhen behaviour), enabling them to thrive. Michael has confirmed the presence of the white duck, apparently just as aggressive in its new home as before.
The Saddlebacks are Back
Once again British Saddlebacks have been installed in the Park to encourage wild flowers, this time in the Oak Enclosure, immediately south west of Lord Holland’s statue. This area, which was full of brambles and nettles, will have its soil turned over and its bulbs “chipped” by the foraging snouts of six weaners. The hope is that in the summer of 2012 we will see more vigorous growth of wild flowers, this meadow then supporting birds, small mammals, butterflies, grasshoppers and bees.