Friends of Burgess Park

Find out more about events in Burgess Park.

New Aylesbury buildings drawingEvents to discuss the Aylesbury Regeneration

Plans are being developed for the regeneration of Phase 2B of the Aylesbury Estate on Albany Road next to Burgess Park, the area that includes the Wendover 241-471, Winslow, Padbury and Ravenstone blocks.


Public open day

Saturday 16 October 2021, 12 noon – 3pm
Surrey Square Primary School, Surrey Square, London SE17 2JY

Drop in any time to meet the team, view updated designs in a family-friendly environment and give your feedback on plans for Phase 2B of the estate regeneration. Members of the design team, Notting Hill Genesis and Soundings will be on hand to listen to  feedback and answer questions. This event is free and open to all.

Drop in exhibition and stakeholder evening workshop
Monday 18 October 2021
Drop in exhibition 4-6pm; workshop 6-8pm
Upper Hall, Pembroke House, 80 Tatum Street, London SE17 1QR

Drop in to view the plans between 4-6pm. An early evening workshop will discuss public space, access and circulation.
Email aylesbury@nhg.org.uk or call 07920 466133 if you would like to take part.

Online public workshop
Tuesday 26 October 2021, 6-7.30pm
An online evening to discuss the revised plans.
Email aylesbury@nhg.org.uk or call 07920 466133 to take part.

Congratulations to Kye Whyte at Peckham BMX

Kye Whyte won a siver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Many congratulations to him, his family and Peckham BMX Club.

The Peckham Club started at the Bird-in-Bush park track and then moved to the Burgess Park track.

Find out about riding at the Burgess Park track.

Information about the Peckham Challengers BMX Club.

Help protect the woodland in Burgess Park

woodland pathBurgess Park’s woodlands are vital for local wildlife and they are a precious resource in an urban area. Current plans for tall buildings on the edge of the woodlands will reduce the sunlight and change the habitat.

To understand what impact tall buildings would have, we need an independent wildlife report to present to Southwark’s Planning Committee. The goal is to raise £1500 by the end of May 2021 to commission an ecology report from the London Wildlife Trust. Find out more and make a Crowdfunder contribution here. 

Read the blog about the importance of light for the Burgess Park woodlands.

Photo of Great TitAnnual bird count from your home

Unable to run our usual annual bird count in the park due to current restrictions, we explain how you can still get involved from home with the RSPB survey, as well as identify bird songs, and take a soundscape walk around the park. Find out more.

Southhampton Way entrance with building or wildlfe graphic

Sign the petition to stop building in Burgess Park

The Southampton Way entrance to Burgess Park has an area of derelict land used for what was supposed to be temporary scrap yards and car washing.

The land has been designated as part of the protected Metropolitan Open Land of Burgess Park for over 30 years as the council steadily CPO’d (Compulsory Purchased) the various bits of privately owned land selected to be a park in the original Abercrombie Plan after WW2.

However, a developer has bought an option on the site and is suggesting that a 6-storey residential tower-block be built on designated park land.

It is crucial that this land which has been blighted for so long, be landscaped and included in the park next to the recently improved wildlife site.

Please sign the petition calling on Southwark Council to oppose any planning application for building on this site and call on them instead to fulfill their promise to CPO and incorporate this piece of the Burgess Park jigsaw.

Photo of three houses with posterPark art tour

Take a walk, virtual or real, around Burgess Park to view artworks that have been placed here over the years. The Park Art map can be found on the Friends of Burgess Park’s Bridge to Nowhere heritage website which investigates the history of the park that emerged from the streets of south London.

Photo of Gull on sandGulls on the lake

Take a  look at the lake during the winter when the number of gulls and cormorants increases. Identify four different kinds of Gull.

Artist's render of proposed skatebowlUrban games and skate bowl consultations

The urban games and skatebowl website consultation is open to 4 October 2019.  Find out more and add your comments.

The concrete skate bowl will take over a section of the park next to the BMX track  and unfortunately an estimated 3,000 square meters of grass will be lost due to its construction. Friends of Burgess Park object to the replacement of a green area with concrete, one of the worst producers of CO2 . This is the narrowest part of the park, which has been traversed with paths and cycle routes, with tall buildings planned to the north and possibly south, pouring concrete all over it is not an improvement. It is in fact turning this green area into an urban environment not a refuge from it.

Southwark Streetspace MapHave you had your say on the Southwark Council
Streetspace plan yet?

Some ideas are already being implemented and Friends of Burgess Park were out looking at opportunities to improve active travel around the park.

FOBP park orbital teamWe are promoting the Burgess Park Orbital, a protected route, to take cyclists who want to travel securely and efficiently around the park through the neighbourhood so they don’t have to cross the park. The park is very busy at the moment with people socialising and exercising. Some cyclists simply want a straightforward way to get to the other side without interfering in park activities. Some want another place to exercise. Some want an alternative to cycling through the park in the dark winter months.

Using routes around the perimeter means that there will be adequate street lighting rather than trying to light the park and contributing to light pollution which must be controlled according to the National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF).

Click the links below and give each a thumbs up, bottom right.
Let’s show support to get these improvements.

Burgess Park Orbital
1. Cycle lanes around Burgess Park using street lighting.

Albany Road
2. Cycle lanes at Albany Road and the Old Kent Road.
3. 2-way protected cycle route the full length of Albany Road.

Albany Road and Portland Street
4. Adapt the cycle crossing from Portland Street into Albany Road to 2-way and on to Wells Way.

New Church Road/Southampton Way
5. Reinstate the existing cycle route by the new playground from Kitson Rd and continue it down Southampton Way.

Wells Way
6. Wells Way cycle lane and widen pavements.
7. Wells Way underpass for pedestrians and St George’s Way junction.
8. Provide cycle parking at the Old Library instead of car parking.
9. Pavements too narrow at junction of Wells Way and St George’s Way

Parkhouse Street/Wells Way
10. 2-way cycle routes on Parkhouse Street.

Burgess Park West
11. Burgess Park West.

St. George’s Way
12. Remove cars on St George’s Way and green route for cycling.
13. Provide cycle lanes which use street lighting for safe winter cycling.

Surrey Canal
14. Surrey Canal too narrow; promote Sumner Road cycle lane alternative
15. Peckham Square for pedestrians; promote Sumner Road cycle lane alternative

park clean-up volunteerLitter-free Mondays and Thursdays July – September

Weekly litter pick  Mondays 7:30-9.30am and Thursdays  6:15-8pm July to September 2020. Meet at the picnic benches at Chumleigh Gardens. Gloves and litter pickers provided or bring your own.
More information here. 
Read the blog.

Photo of Grebe swimmingLaunch of Southwark nature action conservation volunteers

Dave Clark provided online training in recognising birdsong. He has an MSc in Ornithology from Birmingham University and is particularly interested in the interaction between birds and humans. Read his blog about birds in Burgess Park From Africa to the Old Kent Road and follow him on Twitter @daveclark77.

Burgess Park contains a mosaic of locally important habitats including areas of rough grass, wildflower ‘meadows’, hedges and patches of bushes, scrub and trees; and a lake and some small ponds with reeds.

Regular visitors include House Martins, Swifts, Blackcaps, Reed Warblers and Whitethroats. Other birds include House Sparrow, Starling, Greenfinch, and typical garden species like the Robin and Blue Tit. The lake has several different species of waterbirds, including three species of geese – Canada, Egyptian and Greylag.

Tuesday 3 March 2020, 7pm, Theatre Deli, Wells Way SE5 Book ticket.

white letter hairstreakHelp with species’ habitats and nature conservation in Southwark parks: carry out surveys, help with planting, dig ponds, map wildlife sightings to target habitat action, photograph wildlife and habitats etc.

Launch event includes talks from Simon Saville, Butterfly Conservation and Jon Best, Southwark Ecology Officer, films and discussions. Find out more.

Come along to the Big Garden Birdwatch

Big Bird Watch 2020at Chumleigh Gardens
on 
Sunday 26 January 2020
11 am – 12 midday

All ages welcome
Free event
Free bird ID sheet

Hot drinks and cake

Identifying wildlife at Burgess Lake

We put up signage at the lake and on the bridge about the waterfowl and fish in the lake. We hope this will help park users know more about wild-fowl, fish and plants and how the lake works as a habitat.

Lake signage

Find out more about what Friends of Burgess Park have been doing at the lake with help from children at Cobourg School.

Friends of Burgess Park AGM

Tuesday 12 November 2019 7 pm
at Theatre Deli, Old Library, Wells Way, SE5 0PX

All welcome to hear about Burgess Park Past, Present and Future

Speakers, Q&A:
Diana Cochrane, Walworth History Society, Burgess Park and Beyond heritage
Jason Leech, Camberwell Society, Camberwell plan
Guy Robinson, Camberwell Fields Residents’ Association, Metropolitan Open Land
Plus: Elect new committee, approve accounts, review constitution, priorities 2020.

October monthly meeting changed

The next FOBP meeting 1st October  2019 is being transferred to the council planning committee so that we can comment on and object to the sports centre application. The planning meeting is open to the public Tues 1 October from 6.30pm, 160 Tooley St. SE1 2QX. Planning committee agenda and report.

The planning committee meeting was cancelled at the last minute because a report from Sport England had not arrived. The next Planning Sub-Committee B meeting is now scheduled for Tue 29 Oct 2019 (to be confirmed). 

FOBP objections:
1. Loss of Metropolitan Open Land
2. Impact of the new pitches and spectator mounds on the surrounding park.
3. The design of the new sports centre does not fit with the character of the park or the Cobourg conservation area, or achieve environmental standards.

Wild Burgess: birds, butterflies, moths and crows

Photo of pale blue butterflyFind out about the latest wildlife sightings in Burgess Park. Ornithologist Dave Clark is thrilled to find more Burgess birds than 10 years ago.  Guest blogger Simon Savile of the Butterfly Conservation organisation tells us where to look for butterflies and moths in Burgess Park. Regular FOBP blogger Jenny Morgan urges us to appreciate crows and the more subtle changes in the park.

Poster for 6 June 2019 3:30 pm lake activities

From Africa to the Old Kent Road: Bird species in Burgess Park
Wednesday 19 June 2019, 9 am – 10.30 am
meet at Chumleigh Gardens

Dave Clark, ornithologist, will lead the circular walk (approx 1.3 hrs) finishing at Chumleigh Gardens café for further informal discussion. FREE – Donations to FOBP welcome. Read Dave Clark’s blog

Read about Burgess Park in the Camberwell Quarterly

sample CQ pageFOBP members toured the park with Marie Staunton CBE who wrote the article. Thank you to the editor of the Camberwell Quarterly, Margaret Powley-Baker for letting us include a copy here – From dawn to dusk – Something’s going on in Burgess Park.

It gives a tremendous picture of the park from the Community Garden at one end to the tennis courts at the other celebrating the wide range of activities in-between – rugby, BMX, children’s nurseries, play groups, art clubs, theatre groups to name a few. It is all enabled by park workers and many dedicated volunteers.

2019 Development planning

Southwark Council is holding the next Old Kent Road Forum on open space on Saturday 19 January 2019 from 11am to 1pm at Christ Church Peckham, 676-680 Old Kent Road, SE15 1JF

Sports Hub consultation
20 November 2018

Help shape the future of Burgess Park – Southwark Council wants your views on the sports centre hub. Come along to the drop-in session (20 November) between 4–7pm at the Burgess Park Sports Centre SE5, or have your say online.

Report wildlife sightings

screen grab of the wildlife report pageLondon is home to a diverse range of animals, including everything from bats to reptiles, and Southwark Council is trying to find out which species can be found where in Southwark.

On the Council website you can click on an interactive map, zoom to the location of your sighting and an email link will appear on the left. Enter your email address and click send.

Your records will help the Council to manage wildlife in Southwark and gain a better understanding of what lives where.

Sightings will be collected and shared with the London Biological Records Centre, Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL).

Peckham BMX club in Burgess Park

CK Flash with brothers Tre and Kye Whyte were interviewed by the BBC about the value and benefits of the BMX club. See the BBC video shot at the track in Burgess Park. The brothers are both in the British Cycling Academy and Kye just won silver at the 2018 European Championships.

New art installation “Silent Raid” opening events

Photo of three houses with posterWednesday, 17 October
The new art work by Sally Hogarth commemorates the Zeppelin raid on Calmington Road (now part of Burgess Park) in 1917 with ten houses representing each of the people killed in the attack. Read Sally Hogarth’s blog on creating the sculptures.

The launch will be exactly 101 years after the attack and is part of the Zeppelin 1917 programme of events in Burgess Park about the First World War.

Location map of the sculptures and more information.

Supported by Southwark Council, the Friends of Burgess Park and Theatre Deli.
Photos of the sculptures by Alexander Christie   Instagram   Twitter

Friends of Burgess Park win Mary Boast History Prize

We had great news on 30th September 2018! The Mary Boast Prize, which is organised by the Camberwell Society, has been won by an essay from some of the Friends of Burgess Park ‘Zeppelin 1917’ team. A big thank you to all the volunteer authors including the essay editing team of Judith Barratt, Joan Ashworth and Susan Crisp. Find out more here.

First World War Victoria Cross commemorative stone unveiling

Monday 3 September 2018, 11am, Old Kent Road entrance, Burgess Park

In September 1918 local hero Jack Harvey was awarded a Victoria Cross for bravery. One hundred years on a commemorative paving stone will be unveiled with a civic service led by the Mayor, Councillor Catherine Rose, with the Army in attendance. All welcome.

Jack Harvey, was born at 2 Canal Grove (just off Old Kent Road) in the old borough of Camberwell. This is why the site chosen for the commemorative paving will be the Old Kent Road main entrance to Burgess Park.

The Victoria Cross commemorative paving stones programme is a national scheme that will see all 627 VC recipient of the First World War commemorated. More information.

More development plans around the park:

  1. Southwark Council is holding the next Old Kent Road Forum  on Saturday 20 October from 11am to 1pm at Christ Church Peckham, 676-680 Old Kent Road, SE15 1JF
    The theme for this forum will be Transport with ward councillors – Evelyn Akoto, Michael Situ and Richard Livingstone and Johnson Situ (Cabinet Member for Growth, Development and Planning). Find out more about the development schemes in Old Kent Road.
  2. Burgess Business Park/Camberwell Union Update Peachtree (the developers) have amended their proposals following community objections and discussions with Southwark Council Planning. The revised planning application is open for comments.  The key documents showing the changes and draft FOBP response here. To put in your comments go to the planning application 17/AP/4797  by 21 October. More information
  3. 37-39 Parkhouse Street (Hunnex site) is a proposed mixed use scheme of commercial rented accommodation including on-site 50% affordable housing.  This substantial site backs onto Burgess Park.
  4. Old Kent Road redevelopment continues with plans for the ARGOS and DFS site opposite Burgess Park OKR entrance. Details of proposals include a hotel, cinema commercial, tall private block and rented housing. Comments wanted by the end of July for a planning application in the autumn.

Zeppelin – the podcast

Graphic of Zeppelin over cityWe are pleased to announce the publication of the latest edition of the Bridge to Nowhere podcast!

This episode is an audio adaptation of the Animated Walk from the Friends’ Zeppelin 1917 season which ran throughout October 2017. It tells the story of the Zeppelin Raid on Camberwell, in the industrial and residential area that existed before the creation of the park itself, and puts the tragic events of that night into the context of local life at that time.

And if you subscribe (it’s free), you will also receive future episodes automatically, as soon as they are released.

photo of fish just caught in the lakeWild Burgess at the Fishing Lake

What is going on above and below the lake? Find out more about the plants, insects, birds and fish.

Photo of Lime blossomWild Burgess in May

Any day now, the Lime trees (Common Lime or Linden, Tilia Europea) will come into bloom. They perfume the air with one of the most delightful scents of summer. Walk along the main avenue by the tennis courts … Read more about the flowers, the butterflies and bogs of Burgess.

Parent Egyptian goose with chicksBurgess goes wild about waterfowl

Despite the terrible weather (28 April 2018) the Friends of Burgess Park were out at the lake finding out how much people knew about the birds on the lake; their names; what they eat and the problems of feeding bread to the ducks. Read about the birds we saw and counted and what we should be feeding them.

The identification session was part of the international City Nature Challenge with 70 cities  competing to see who could make the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people in the worldwide 2018 City Nature Challenge.

Unleash your wild side

Find out more about the wildlife in Burgess Park over the next few months.

All through June we are doing #30DaysWild #wildaboutburgess part of the London Wildlife campaign. The perfect excuse to share your favourite photos @BurgessPk.

Saturday 21 July – 4.30 to 6pm Pond-dipping by the lake. Part of London’s National Park City Week.

Photo of Albany Road and Wells WayGoing wild

Find out what to look for as spring comes to Burgess Park – the sights, sounds and scents.

Community Hustings on planning and regeneration

Monday 22nd October 2018 7-9pm
Assemble from 6.45pm at St Philips Church Hall, Avondale Square, SE1 5PD, near Asda on Old Kent Rd.
Help to improve existing neighbourhoods and existing communities’ health and wellbeing.
* Cllr Rebecca Lury, Council deputy leader and Cabinet member for
Culture, Leisure, Equalities and Communities
* Cllr Johnson Situ, Cabinet Member for Growth, Development and Planning
* Professor Kevin Fenton, Strategic Director of Place and Wellbeing, the
Chief Officer for the new Council department, which has brought together
planning, regeneration, public health and community engagement.
Please register through eventbrite here: https://bit.ly/2KYEA1M
Organised by the Southwark Planning Network (SPN)

Park developmentsBurgess Park developments map

Find out more about developments planned in and around Burgess Park

Burgess Park South

Burgess Park South map

Southwark Council are looking at ways to improve the streets south of Burgess Park, with a view to making the area safer and healthier for all road users.

Workshops to help Southwark design the future look and feel of these streets.

  • Session 1: Tuesday 30 January 6pm
  • Session 2: Tuesday 13 February from 3pm
  • Session 3: Wednesday 21 March from 5.30pm to 8pm

At St Luke’s Church Peckham, Chandler Way, Peckham, London, SE15 6LU.

First session: for residents and road users to tell us what the issues are in these streets.

Second session: Walking tour of the area to look at the some of the issues identified and co-design workshop where residents will work with a specialist street design team to come up with ideas for improving the roads.

Third session:  local people will have a chance to comment on the design proposals and help make further changes.

Further information, or contact highways@southwark.gov.uk, call 020 7525 2347, or write to FREEPOST RSCT-BHXK-SCAJ, Highways Division (Transport Projects) Floor 3, Hub 2, Southwark Council, PO BOX 64529, London, SE1P 5LX.

Revised plans for the Burgess Park Community Sports Centre Jan 2018New sports centre and pitches consultation

Thursday 11 January 2018, 4.00 -7.00pm
at Burgess Park Community Sports Centre, Cobourg Road, SE5 0JD

Southwark Council with match funding from Parklife Funding Partners (The FA, the Premier League and Sport England) are presenting draft design proposals for developing the community sports hub . Who will run the new facility? Will there be more fencing of sports’ fields? Will Cobourg Road and Neate Street be closed? What will the provision be for access to Cobourg School? Will there be through routes for pedestrians and cyclists? What about parking? Will  trees be cut down? Please come along and say what you think about the new plans.  Download a pdf of the latest plans. Email your comments to Southwark by 19 January 2018.

Zeppelin Memorial Artist's ImpressionWWI Centenary Memorial 

A new public art installation is being planned for Burgess Park. Ten small replica houses will be placed close to the site of the 1917 Zeppelin bomb. More details and locations are on the application for planning permission.
Friends of Burgess Park Zeppelin 1917 project.

 

Burgess Park West closures

New Church Road is being permanently closed from 4 December as part of the Burgess Park West project. Lighting on New Church Road is being switched off as well as the lighting on the pathway that leads from Albany Road to New Church Road. This is for safety reasons as Southwark do not want people to follow a lit route from Albany Road into the park since it is a dead end. Southwark urge you not to travel through the park after dark until the new lit pathway is open. The new Quietway 7 cycle pathway which will cut through the park will be built as an alternative route. It is expected to open in spring 2018.

Two sections of Burgess Park West designated on a mapThe plan shows which areas of the site Southwark intend to close and for how long. Read more about the closures here.

Trees earmarked for removal in Site A (see map) will be felled in the week starting February 5th.

This is the latest stage in the implementation of the Burgess Park Masterplan. More information on the project can be found here: www.southwark.gov.uk/burgessparkwest or contact John Wade (020 7525 0141) or Pippa Krishnan (020 7525 5133).

Consultations on the Burgess Park West new play area will take place on:

Tuesday 28 November 3.30 to 5pm Chumleigh Gardens play area, next to the Park Life café, off Albany Road. If the weather is poor the consultation will be inside the Chumleigh West building, which will be signposted from the play area.

Monday 4th December 6pm to 8pm Southwark Council’s offices 160 Tooley Street, SE1 2QH

Drop by to see the emerging design which has taken into account previous consultation results, and tell the designers your ideas and opinions.

If you cannot attend either session and are still interested in the play area design, please get in touch with Pippa Krishnan pippa.krishnan@southwark.gov.uk

Burgess Park Cafe catering arrangementsBurgess Park Café

A new catering company will be taking over Burgess Park Café.  The café will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, 30 and 31 October 2017. Southwark Council apologise for the inconvenience and thank Prestigious Catering Ltd trading as Park Life Café who will cease operations on Sunday, 29 October 2017. A Fuorvito & Sons will take over on Wednesday, 1 November 2017.

Friends of Burgess Park Meetings

First Tuesday of each month
All welcome from 7-9 pm
Burgess Park Community Sports Centre, 106 Cobourg Road, SE5 0JV.

Bridge to Nowhere history project 

The Bridge to Nowhere heritage project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund involved loads of people to learn more about the history and heritage of Burgess Park. The project included the Wells Way underpass artwork – a reminder of the main feature of the area which lead to the creation of the park – the Grand Surrey Canal. And we have launched the new Burgess Park Heritage Trail. Look out for the blue plaques around the park.

Find out more about the history of the park and
download your own map 

Bridge to Nowhere - long logo

Squirrel in tree

Love your woodlands

so much more than lots of trees

Wild boar, auroch and red deer shaped our ancient woodlands. They grazed on the saplings that sprung up in the clearings caused by falling trees and kept the soil open to the sky. Wildflowers and berries thrived in the sunshine attracting more wildlife. Stone-age hunters found it profitable to hunt where the animals gathered and were able to keep the clearings open using flint axes. Later on, Bronze age people developed the clearings into places to cultivate rough pasture and crops.* 

Closed canopy woodland
Under  the shade of a closed canopy, very little grows. Trees are not regenerated. Small areas like this add to the experience of walking in a wood, but it would be rather gloomy if covering a large area.

A completely closed canopy is poor in biodiversity as without sunlight, there will be no plants for forage on the woodland floor. The only insects to be found will be those that feed on decaying leaf litter and their predators. The mighty English Oak will not grow here, their seedlings grow best in more open conditions, often under the protection of a Blackberry thicket. ‘The thorn is mother to the Oak.’ When you find an Oak tree in the middle of a wood, it was there first, other trees grew around it.

Break in the canopy
Here, the break in the canopy is allowing regeneration of the woodland floor. Alkanet and nettles flower, encouraging butterflies to lay their eggs and young trees to grow from seed.

Throughout the many centuries since, under-woodsmen have harvested the underwood, taking Hazel, Ash and Chestnut to make hurdles, fences, rustic furniture, firewood and charcoal. The standards, Oak and Elm were left to grow on into timber for ship and house building or to become veteran trees. Felling all the underwood may seem like vandalism, but letting the light in regenerates the woodland as the trees quickly re-grow.

Woodland edge
The most biodiverse part of woodland is the woodland edge. Abundant plant cover provides food and protection for small animals, insects and birds. Birds will feast on the wild cherry on the right then spread their stones to create more trees. This is a good place to spot Speckled Wood Butterflies.

The woodland in Burgess Park West is a young Broad Leaf woodland, planted to imitate ancient woodland, but it will be many decades before it develops veteran trees and the complex wildlife that they support. Similarly, with the plants that indicate ancient woodland – Wood anemone, Herb Paris, Twayblade, Purple Orchid, They need deep, moist, leaf mould interlaced with fungal mycelium and soil micro-organisms to grow in. 

Adjacent to the Burgess Park West Wood is this area of wild carrot, Viper’s bugloss, Bird’s foot trefoil, Knapweed & Clover. Ants, spiders, shield insects and beetles in abundance are a vital supply for the hungry nestlings waiting in the wood. Pollinators turn the flowers into seeds that keep the birds fed through autumn and winter. Common Blue butterfly caterpillars feed on Bird’s foot trefoil, Painted lady on Viper’s bugloss and Clouded yellow butterfly on clover.
Dog Rose
This thicket of Dog Rose would provide enough cover for a Black Cap, nicknamed ‘Northern Nightingale’ to nest. There are quite a few of them in this part of London.
Hawthorn
Hawthorn provides fodder for animals, edible berries, and is a food plant of the Black-veined white butterfly caterpillar.

Sunshine is a vital agent. In a coppiced woodland, sections of the woodland called Coups are cut every 7-12 years in rotation. Under this system, there are always young tree shoots within the reach of grazing animals somewhere in the woods. Other trees and plants are mature enough to produce nuts and berries to feed animals such as dormice. Somewhere in the wood, areas of thick scrub will have sprung up into a site where nightingales can nest. Full exposure to sunlight every decade is enough to sustain bluebells and other woodland flora. In neglected woods, the flora will eventually be shaded out along with all the wildlife it supports.

Coppicing is hard work and under woodsmen a rare breed. In Blean Woods near Canterbury, things are going full circle and European Bison are being re-introduced to look after the woods. Unfortunately, natural habitats are becoming more fragmented by roads and buildings, so it will take a lot of changes to make it possible for native mammals like the hedgehog or the wild boar to return to this bit of London. The plants and trees that have lasted with us into the 21st Century have adapted to our ancient methods of managing the land and to the animals that live on it. But, they can’t keep up with our present rate of change and we run the risk of destroying these beautiful habitats if we don’t understand and fight for what it takes to keep them alive.

Jenny

* See A Natural History of the Hedgerow by John Wright

Pochard detail

Winter bird highlights on the lake

Ornithologist Dave Clark recommends keeping a record of the birds in the park and on the lake.

This gives us an indication of the natural health of our precious green urban space and allows us to understand the changes that occur seasonally within nature. The winter profile of the lake is one of gulls, cormorants and wintering ducks seeking, believe it or not, a warmer climate from their usual surrounds.

Being proximate to the Thames and easy for birds to see from the air, the wide vistas of the park provide a backdrop that allows avian incomers to assess the attractiveness of the lake, with food and safety being the prime instinctual drivers. This winter the lake has continued to provide a home, stopover and feeding station to the usual suspects alongside less common and in a Greater London context, rare species.

White-fronted goose walking
White-fronted goose. Photo: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The star of the show was a White-fronted goose which quite happily fed and swam with the resident Greylag geese population, gracing us with its rare presence for around a week. White fronts, check out the white patch above the beak in the above photo, migrate to Britain during the winter to escape the bitterness of lcelandic and Russian winters with this particular bird being one of the rarer subspecies which arrives from faraway Siberia to land habitually on our coastal and estuarine environments, a rarity indeed.

Goldeneye swimming
Goldeneye. Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sbern/, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Usually seen, if at all, on the large expansive London reservoirs the Goldeneye is a distinctive wintering duck from Scandinavia. A beautiful male appeared later in January for three days and was probably the same individual that appeared for the same duration on the lake before last year`s lock down.

Gadwall swimming
Gadwall. Photo: Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Other ducks of note that have also been seen are the subtly plumaged Gadwall and a long standing male Pochard in all its orange-red headed glory.

Pochard swimming
Pochard. Photo: Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

On our playing fields, parkland and ponds there is always a winter build up of gulls, and on any one day during this winter there have been up to two hundred Black-headed gulls swooping and swimming at the lake. We commonly make the mistake of perceiving them as seabirds when in fact they are coastal birds and with the Thames so close the route to the coast is only 20 to 30 miles away. Along with Common gull, Herring gull and Lesser black-backed gull the lake has also attracted, on occasion, Britain’s largest gull the Great black-backed gull, a serious beast standing at 70 centimetres it is twice the size of the usuals and five times the weight!

Black-backed gull standing
Black-backed gull. Photo: Charles J. Sharp, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Finally in our water bird list is the Mediterranean gull which pops in and out of Burgess Park. As suggested by their name they are used to a warmer environment and although still rare the general increase in abundance of this bird in Kent coastal areas is a sign of our changing climate. Very similar to the Black-headed gull the white wing tips and droopy beak help discriminate between the two species.

Mediterranean gull swimming
Mediterranean gull. Photo: Martin Olsson (mnemo on en/sv wikipedia and commons, martin@minimum.se)., CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

A heartwarming effect of the lake’s success is the notable increase in the number of observers who are recording sightings on the various social media platforms. I’m sure the coming seasons will add to our birding pleasure, and whether casual or serious in our intent there is no doubt in these strange times that the lake and the park are important for our well being. Keep birding!

Where to record your bird sightings

London database = GIGL = Greenspace Information for Greater London – collects data on flora and faunahttps://www.gigl.org.uk/

BTO = British Trust for Ornithology – strictly birdshttps://www.bto.org/

ebird – U.S. app for birds which we are increasingly using for our water and songbird sightingshttps://ebird.org/home

Dave Clark
dave@mailbox.co.uk

Head of Great Tit

Annual Burgess Park bird count

In any other year, in the last weekend of January the Friends would be joining residents and parks groups around the country to take part in the RSPB’s annual bird survey for the Big Garden Birdwatch; this year however, things are very different, and with current guidelines restricting park users to essential activities only, that sadly won’t be possible.

It’s vital that all those coming into the park at this time do so within the rules, and that they in turn remain respectful in giving the appropriate space so that other people who need to use the park may also do so safely. Thank you.

But even if we’re not getting around quite as much as we’re used to, thankfully the birds still are! And if we’re not stopping by the park, what instead are we likely to see coming to rest our balconies or hear twittering from among the hedgerows?

Great tit image and description

Well, if you missed his session back in May of last year, friend of the Friends, ornithologist Dave Clark hosted a superb introduction to birdsong specially designed to help in identifying species you might be lucky enough to find in and around our park. So if you’re looking for somewhere to start genning up on your ID skills, or you fancy a bit of a refresher as we look forward to the spring, we’ve updated our original presentation so that now it can be enjoyed with audio clips from home – open Birdsong at Burgess to begin.

Dave’s also put together some background on our local gulls, which species we’re likely to see in London, and how there’s no such thing as a ‘seagull’ – read all about it on the Friends website.

Or take a virtual walk through the park with a Burgess soundscape, recorded by the Friends in mid-summer to remind ourselves of what we can look forward to when we can return, with sounds of birdsong and children playing.

Burgess goes wild: Gulls

Gulls in winter

by Dave Clark, Ornithologist

The abundance and species of birds change with the seasons and at Burgess Park this is as true as anywhere in the country. Take a special look at the lake during the winter where the number of gulls and cormorants increase.

We commonly call these grey/black and white birds – seagulls – but they are actually coastal and inland birds and consist of several species, look out for these four different birds during the winter:

Black headed Gull: The smallest one – look out for the red bill and legs.
Common Gull: Not as common! as the others, a bit bigger with a white head
Herring Gull: Much bigger with a large yellow beak and pink legs
Lesser Black-backed Gull: Like a Herring Gull but black rather than grey wings and yellow legs
Litter pick volunteers load a rubbish truck

Tackling rubbish behaviour one bottle top at a time

Mother and child at litter pick morning

Litter picks are every Monday morning, 7.30-9.30am and Thursday evening session 6.15-8pm. Both weekly litter-pics continue until the end of September.

FOBP provide litter-picks, gloves and bags or bring your own. Come along to any session, meet-up at Chumleigh Gardens picnic benches.

Our first session was 20 July and between 12 and 20 people have come along at each session, 50 people have done 92 volunteering litter-picking sessions. Some people have come to lots of sessions and others just to one or two but it all helps. Together we’ve picked up bags and bags of rubbish and just as importantly loads of the little stuff that gets missed; bottle tops, cigarette ends, shiny metallic balloon confetti and broken plastic cutlery.

The FOBP litter-pick is helping the park gardeners after the week-end and improving our park for wildlife. With people from the community involved and some stronger messages from the council about the unacceptability of leaving rubbish we hope to make a small difference this summer.

Volunteer collection rubbish

During the summer you can’t have missed the photos and images of rubbish left in open spaces across the country, including Burgess Park. Parks have never been so popular, but for our gardeners it has just meant mountains of rubbish to collect every morning.
With many people complaining about the rubbish Friends of Burgess Park set up a regular weekly litter-pic session. We are so grateful for the fantastic help from Burgess Parkrun and Southwark Good Gym volunteers.

Come and join Burgess Park Team Zero Waste or get in contact if you have any suggestions for reducing litter at friendsofburgesspark@gmail.com.

Susan, Monica, Sam, Paula.

Postcard people and parks need sunshine

Don’t put Burgess Park in the shade

Burgess Park west (running from Wells Way to Southampton Way) is under threat.
New developments are planned all along the southside of the park on Parkhouse Street.

35-39 Parkhouse view from Burgess Park with planned buildings

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tall developments along Parkhouse Street
will block the sun

The 10 storey high blocks (about 30m) will be north facing and cast long shadows across the park. In the winter mornings the shadows will be over 100m long and reach to the main Surrey Canal path. In the summer, shorter shadows will still reach across the wildlife area, about one third the width of the park.

Overshadowing from multiple buildings* will change the character of the park. It will have a negative impact on green space, biodiversity, and people’s health and well-being.

Postcard back Jan 2020 v2Southwark Council needs to make clear in their planning policy and discussions with developers that they are taking seriously the cumulative impact of tall buildings along the park boundary.

Very little will grow in the deep shade from buildings. Some plants thrive in light shade, but wildflowers and pollinators need full sun throughout the day.

People and parks both need sunshine

Burgess Park west was created in 2018/19 with a £3.5m make-over taking out New Church Road, putting in a playground and extending the wildlife area. The new walkways through the wildlife area are already popular with children, walkers and runners bringing back into use a previously closed-off, no-go area. This is the squeezed middle of the park, less than 200 meters wide, so the extra usable space is really welcome

The wildlife will take a few years to become established. But the evidence from other areas of the park is that the mix of small woodlands, meadows and native bushes attracts and encourages a good mix of plants, insects, butterflies and birds. Sometimes this habitat mix is called scrubland. Often in planning reports it is implied as having little value. That might be the case in places with lots of green space but here in Southwark our patch of green space is important to many, many people.

Inner city green space is vital for people

People who live both nearby and further away use Burgess Park. Since the re-landscaping of 2012, user numbers have gone up and up. It is one of the major parks of the area. As Southwark’s population grows it will be very difficult to make more large, green spaces where children can run freely, play rounders and football. We must look after and keep green spaces for future generations.

Burgess Park has a vital role to play for local people. Around Burgess Park the new Aylesbury area is being built, taller blocks are planned along the Old Kent Road and the new residential developments along Parkhouse Street mean that many more people will use Burgess Park. We want the park to provide high quality green space with different landscapes for people to use and enjoy.

The real value of green spaces for people is easily overlooked

BAME respondents were twice as likely as white respondents to use parks and green spaces for team and individual sports and to meet friends.

  • Parks and green spaces are estimated to save the NHS around £111 million per year based solely on a reduction in GP visits.
  • Statistics from Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces, Fields in Trust, 2018 

* FOBP Shadows from tall buildings report, 2019

Find out more

Diving into the details

Burgess Business Park planning inquiry appeal

By Susan Crisp, FOBP Committee (Long read)

I’m in at the deep end of the planning world. Over the last five months I’ve been preparing evidence and fundraising so that local groups can be represented at a planning appeal inquiry for a new development.  There are a multitude of community concerns about the large-scale mixed-use scheme on the Burgess Business Park industrial land. For me the specific issues are the impact on the local park and the wider scene setting for future development (emerging context).

Burgess Business Park development
Burgess Business Park development

Community groups can be given permission to join the planning appeal and take part in the presentation of evidence and questioning of witnesses.  Formally known as a “Rule 6 party” we are imaginatively called “The Local Group”.  The six groups involved represent the local park, residents, campaigns on affordable housing and loss of industrial space.

To prepare for the appeal inquiry we’ve had fantastic support from Southwark Law Centre. They’ve been on top of the vast number of reports produced by the appellant (the developer) and the council (defending their decision to refuse planning permission).  The Local Group has also had to provide evidence for the issues we want to be discussed covering industrial land, design, density, height and transport. Local people have provided a lot of useful information to help make our case.

I have written an “environmental proof” as a formal paper for the appeal, setting out environment related planning policy and relating this to my local knowledge about the park and my opinion on the impact of the scheme. It has been incredibly empowering to realise that as a local person with knowledge about the area I am in a position to provide both factual information and opinion about the impact of the development.

The Local Group raised over £5.5k to pay for a barrister and expert witness costs. We used a crowdfunding approach with CrowdJustice, who specialise in raising funding for legal cases. Our fundraising campaign launched in June. Six groups working together was very effective; each group used their own networks to raise awareness and ask for donations. Some of the local community groups were able to make large donations and we reached our first mission critical goal of £2.5k in a month.

This planning appeal inquiry is over 8 days. It’s a detailed behind the scenes look at the planning system in action, covering both planning policy and the specific merits of the scheme.

Week 1

After a few sessions I’ve seen how the specific wording of a planning policy influences the development proposals. Balance has been a key factor so far — meaning balancing the demands of different planning policy objectives across the scheme as well as balancing the merits of the scheme details and identifying where it falls short not meet planning policy. In other words, there is always an exception to the rule; but deciding when this can happen seems to me to be very subjective. It is down to professional opinion and judgement as to what is the right balance for the scheme.

At one point the council planning officer was asked about the new local plan and the impact of consultation responses on a specific policy. It was very powerful to hear the planning inspector ask that question and see the importance of responding to local consultation since most of the time the process of influence is invisible.

More expert witnesses will be called as the inquiry progresses, including experts for The Local Group on transport, daylight/sunlight impact on local neighbours, and townscape and character. It must take nerves of steel to be an expert witness; it’s a formal process of presenting evidence with tough questions and then cross-examination on written statements and professional opinion. There is quite a bit of point scoring from what I’ve seen so far. Inevitably the main point is to demolish the other side’s position. However, even bearing this in mind, the inquiry is really getting into a lot of detail covering the issues identified as most important or most contentious. It is far more detailed than any planning committee discussion or council officer’s report.

Inquiry Day 1 with our legal team
Inquiry Day 1 with our legal team

Week 2

Residents got to speak at two roundtables. Local people were able to explain the impact of less sunlight and daylight due to overshadowing. The Local Group expert witness reviewed all the technical details and identified that a number of the new flats would not meet “exemplary” design standards like room sizes and access to daylight.

The second roundtable covered townscape and local character of the area and how well the design fits into the area. I am surprised at the importance given to views of St George’s Church. Right from the initial officer’s reports to the planning committee which included “agreed views” through to the inclusion by the inspector in the roundtable discussion. I was able to explain that the church tower is a key feature of Burgess Park, seen from all directions. The Local Group’s expert witness pointed out specific design aspects like height and bulk are not characteristic of the area compared to other new developments.

Public transport is also important to residents. There are two local buses, both very full in the mornings. Even with more people cycling an extra 499 homes is a lot of extra bus journeys. Transports accessibility is rated low, (measured as PTAL 2 and 4, the highest is 6). The Local Group’s expert transport witness put forward alternative projections for passenger numbers and the developer has offered to pay for more buses.  This is a very significant concession and probably wouldn’t have happened without The Local Group putting forward community concerns. If the scheme is approved this additional funding will be a planning condition.

Across the whole Inquiry the key issue has been “planning balance”. This is the balance between planning policy aims; what the proposed development delivers, as well as the relative weight to be given to different areas outcomes of planning policy. This is subjective and balancing harms v benefits is the essence of assessing the planning balance.  The current planning policy does not allow tall buildings on the site so in order to be approved the scheme must be exemplary and align to the new Southwark Plan policies which are currently being developed. The Inspector again asked about what weight should be given to the New Southwark Plan policies and what representations had been made about the Tall Buildings policy.

Site visit

The Inspector visited the Burgess Business Park site, toured all the buildings and walked around the surrounding area including Burgess Park and the planning committee agreed viewpoints of St George’s Church.

What happens next

There’s one more day to go when each party will sum up their arguments in final statements on Monday 23 September, 9.30am at the council offices 160 Tooley St, SE1.

After this the Inspector will write a report and recommendation for the Secretary of State for Housing who makes the decision. This is not a quick process. The outcome probably won’t be known until 2020.

The six groups are:

  • Friends of Burgess Park
  • Wells Way Triangle TRA
  • Brunswick Park RA
  • Camberwell Society
  • Vital Old Kent Road
  • 35 Percent

 

Photo of bird with open beak

Burgess goes wild: Sparrows, Starlings, Whitethroats, Warblers

From Africa to the Old Kent Road

by Dave Clark, Ornithologist

10 years ago I did some bird surveying for the council at Burgess Park and last week I had a revisit. Wow I was impressed! Blown away by the positive changes that have occurred in the interim. 

photo of plants
Burgess Park meadow

Wildflower and meadow areas buzzing and singing with life, amenity grassland merging seamlessy into nature friendly areas. People working out with butterflies dancing around their feet.  No inaptly named so-called ‘eco-zones’, just a park working with nature.  All this in an urban area close to the centre of London.

The beloved Cockney House Sparrow which has lost 60% of its urban population since the 1970s is thriving here, not just picking up scraps from around the cafe but flitting amongst the meadowlands for live food for their hungry chicks.  

photo of bird on a branch
Whitethroat

I found at least 30 (last time just a pair) and to put this into some kind of context there are no Sparrows in Peckham Rye Park nor Dulwich Park.  Similarly the Starling population, compared to  other local urban spaces, is abundant. This lovable roguish street urchin of a bird, once so common it was deemed a pest, has suffered 66% losses since the mid-70s and is now a red-listed species, i.e. a species of highest conservation concern.

What was really exciting was finding seven different breeding territories of birds that had flown all the way from Africa. Five male Whitethroats busily displaying amongst the meadows and two Reed Warblers, guess where – in the reeds surrounding the lake. Both of these species travel from the Sahel, a region between the Sahara desert and the Savanna, to breed here in the UK. To find them so close to the centre of London is uncommon and a pleasure. The scratching sound of the Whitethroat and the gurgle of the Reed Warbler is deeply resonant of the exoticism of a faraway continent. Their joyous life affirming songs showing that nature can survive despite what obstacles we throw at it.

photo of bird on a reed
Reed Warbler

Well done, you should be proud. Burgess Park is an example of what can be achieved in an urban inner city area when ecological concerns are placed at the forefront of the agenda and not left at the bottom of the priority pile. Nature does not pick nature reserves. Nature is all around and can flourish with some care and attention. Praise should be given to Greg and his gardening team for being a large part of this environmental success despite having only limited resources and despite having to battle the conflicting interests that public parks bring.

So is this just a nature lover banging on …

Er … nope … the maintenance and improvement of the health of urban green spaces is paramount for all of us not just nature. 80% of us live in cities for a start and we also know that access and proximity to nature is beneficial to our physical and mental well being, reduces stress and reduces crime. By making nature more visible and audible the easier it becomes for people to engage with it.  Engagement with nature not only brings joy but also increases our care for our environment.

We can deny nature but we can’t get away from it, it’s the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink. It’s incumbent on all of us to maintain its health.

Well done again!

 

Photo of orange butterfly with spots

Burgess goes wild: Butterflies & Moths

Nature under our noses in Burgess Park

by Simon Saville
Chair of the Surrey & SW London Branch of Butterfly Conservation

I suppose that most people don’t think of butterflies when they think of Burgess Park. But they should! Already this year (by late March) I have seen a Small Tortoiseshell, a Small  White, a couple of Commas and a couple of Brimstones.

Over the past few years, I have spotted no fewer than 16 different types of butterfly in the park. On one spectacular sunny July day, I saw more than 160 butterflies of 10 different species, plus a couple of day-flying moths.

Burgess Park has been managed quite sensitively for wildlife, and there are lots of good places for butterflies. Some of them are shown in this map:

Map of Burgess Park showing where butterfly species have been seen

1 – Elm trees, supporting some very elusive White-letter Hairstreaks
2 – Nature area, being redeveloped. This could become a nature hotspot in a few years’ time
3 – The big mounds, home to the Common Blue butterfly
4 – By St. George’s Way
5 – Grassy area with brambles
6 – South-facing slope
7 – Wooded area north of the lake
8 – Grassy area by the lake
9 – Grassy area and hedges between Waite St and Oakley Place
10 – Glengall Wharf, start of Surrey Canal Walk

Photo of orange spotted butterfly

The Comma is a harbinger of spring, often seen in April. They spend the winter hibernating as adults and they reappear as soon as the weather warms up. This one was in the wooded area north of the lake – a favoured spot. The caterpillars used to feed on hops, but now have a taste for nettles and this has helped them increase their range and abundance in recent years. 

Photo of a orange, black and white spotted butterfly

The Small Tortoiseshell also hibernates as an adult. This one was spotted in the middle of the Park by some brambles in April. The caterpillars feed on nettles, so it’s important that we don’t tidy the nettles away! We used to see a lot more of these butterflies. Nobody really knows why they have crashed in numbers so quickly.

Photo of a dark grey butterfly with spots

A Speckled Wood in the Glengall Wharf area in April. They like the semi-wooded areas and enjoy dappled sunlight.

Photo of gold moth

A Sitochroa verticalis moth (this has no English name) on one of the big mounds in June when many of the flowers were in bloom. Also around at that time were lots of Burnet Companion and Silver-Y moths. The latter is a migrant that can appear in London in big numbers.

Photo of pale blue butterfly

One of many Common Blue butterflies seen on the big mounds in June last year. The caterpillars feed on Bird’s-foot Trefoil which is present here.

Photo of flower meadow

The big mounds are often teeming with insect life, a result of the many wild flowers present.

Photo of striped moth

The spectacular Jersey Tiger moth can be seen flying in the Park in July and August. This photo is from Kennington, about a mile away. This used to be restricted to the south coast, but is now spreading rapidly. It can be seen all over south London. Because it is colourful and flies by day, it’s often mistaken for a butterfly.Photo of trees in winter

Elm trees by New Church Road. If you are lucky, you might see pairs of male White-letter Hairstreaks spiralling in mock combat at the top of the canopy.

Butterflies seen in Burgess Park      Larval foodplant

Brimstone                                                      Buckthorn

Comma                                                           Nettle

Common Blue                                              Birdsfoot Trefoil

Gatekeeper                                                   Grasses

Green-veined White                                  Crucifers

Holly Blue                                                      Holly (spring), ivy (summer)

Large Skipper                                              Grasses

Large White                                                  Brassicas

Meadow Brown                                          Grasses

Orange-tip                                                    Garlic Mustard, crucifers

Red Admiral                                                 Nettles

Small / Essex Skipper
(not separately recorded)                      Grasses

Small Tortoiseshell                                   Nettles

Small White                                                 Brassicas, crucifers

Speckled Wood                                         Grasses

White-letter Hairstreak                          Elm

I haven’t seen any Painted Lady, Peacock or Ringlet butterflies in Burgess Park, but I would be surprised if they were not present, as they have been seen at Nunhead Cemetery (3km away). The Painted Lady, which is a migrant species, was also seen at Walworth Garden (1km away). There may be Purple Hairstreaks on the oak trees by Waite Street.

Moths present include: Jersey Tiger, Six Spot Burnet, Burnet Companion, Silver-Y and Sitochroa verticalis.

All this goes to show what a wonderful place Burgess Park is for butterflies. I know that Southwark Council are keen to make it even better.

Butterfly Conservation has started a ‘BIG City Butterflies’ project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This aims to get people to engage with the green spaces near them and to discover the wildlife that’s under their noses. We’ll be using Burgess Park as one of our key sites in SW London. It’s early days, but you can read more about Big City Butterflies here. 

Graphic of a butterfly

27 March 2019

www.butterfly-conservation.org 

 

 

Lichen on a tree trunk

Burgess Goes Wild: Winter 2019

 

Crows in trees in Burgess Park
By the Bridge to Nowhere – a murder of crows

A murder of crows
Perhaps, if crows were brightly coloured, they would be loved instead of feared. Part of the Corvid family which includes magpies, ravens, jays and jackdaws they are arguably the most intelligent and fascinating of all birds. I have watched them fly off with a chicken’s egg, wash the salt off a chip in a puddle before eating it and mobbing a fox. Set aside an hour to watch this brilliant documentary which will make you view crows in a whole new light. 

Grass tussocks in Burgess ParkJust a piece of unkempt turf on the common that is providing shelter, protection and food for next summer’s butterflies, grass-hoppers and maybe the odd frog.

 

 

 

Burgess Park path 2
Inviting new pathways in the Nature Area in Burgess Park west.

Burgess Park path 3

We don’t hear so much about acid rain these days, but it’s still there, scrubbing clean the tree trunks of moss and lichen, so a treat to see this.

Photo of tree trunk
Lichen on Horse Chestnut bark near the underpass.

Not one organism, but two, a fungus and an alga that can’t live without each other. The fungus provides the structure and the algae make the sugar. There are many different species of Lichen. It’s not feeding on the tree, but is affected by the acidity of the water running off the bark . You will find Lichen on brick and stone, glass, metal ,leather surfaces too.

Lichen is used to make Litmus paper. Dies are extracted and added to filter paper so that it turns red in acid conditions and blue in alkaline. Some lichens contain Usinic acid which is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and attacks cancer cells. Unfortunately, it also damages the liver.

Seed heads

Still some lingering seed heads from last year’s spectacular display in St George’s Gardens. Many seeds have a protective coating and won’t germinate until they have been exposed to frost. This keeps them fresh and hydrated ready to send out new roots into the warm moist spring soil.