Showing posts from 2014

Fungi at Kingston Cemetery Part 2

Many of the species found in Kingston cemetery are typical of unimproved grassland and reflect a management regime sympathetic to both flora and fauna. Golden spindles have a pointed end not to be confused with blunt-ended grassland species known as clubs.

These horse mushrooms were enormous!

 Fungi provides animals with food and flies lay their eggs in the flesh which provide a source of food for bats and birds. Can you see the fly on the left.

One of unimproved grassland species and the other is a confusion species of field mushroom and definitely not edible!

The orange peel fungus at the Dawson Road  entrance is even more spectacular than 2 weeks ago. Birds had left the remains of the poisonous yew seeds on one of the graves after consuming the red arils.

We are trying to compile a list for the Cemetery to raise the importance of fungi.See below for earlier species.

Tolworth Court Farm hedge survey and public walk

During a wet Sunday morning seven of us met at Tolworth Court Farm to survey the hedgerows. We used a standard methodology, as well as recording sheets provided to us during a training session at the Lower Moles office (Horton Country Park) earlier this Autumn. This required a qualitative analysis of the hedgerow from 'soup to nuts' i.e.: measurements of height, length, depth, canopy cover, species, evidence of nutrient enrichment, management, presence or absence of features including banks, fencing or 'nodes'.

We found that the hedgerows were: species rich (ash, oak, willow, birch, alder, hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, dogwood and field maple) absent in invasive species; surprisingly absent in sycamore; recently managed, evidenced by the brush cutting of brambles; recently planted or 'gapped' (by field maples and dogwood); exhibiting some coppicing of willows; and as we reached the end of the first field, increasingly 'unimproved' with a marked absence …

Fungi at Kingston Cemetery

An outstanding year with a large number of species (see below). We found at least two species, which are indicative of unimproved grassland.

 At the Dawson Road entrance was the remains of a copper beech. The tree was infected by Giant Polypore (Meripilus giganteus) seen at the right hand of the stump in its advanced stages, this is a form of butt rot fungus common on Beech. Due to its location, action was taken in the interest of public health and safety. It will be replaced with Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica). Beautiful range peel fungus arises from the remaining stump.

Under a very old birch are three species of bolete, the Brown Birch Bolete is shown here and on the right is shown with two flies laying their eggs. In November the flies arising from the eggs will be important for birds and any bat species. Both red and yellow cracked boletes are around the tree. They have pores instead of the usual gills.
 On the left is a Brown Roll Rim, which can take up lead from the air. people …

London's Lost Rivers a talk by Tom Bolton

Last night the London Wildlife Trust hosted a talk by the  urban explorer, researcher and walker (in conjunction with the Friends of Belair Park) at the Belair Park recreation rooms, just off Gallery Road. This is particularly germane for the Friends as the River Effra is currently being released from it's concrete captivity this week as part of the Lost Effra Project The Lost Effra Project was launched by London Wildlife Trust in January 2013, commissioned by Defra and the Carnegie UK Trust, to develop a community-based water management strategy aiming to inspire people to create new ways to manage the water environment in their area. Community groups are working to improve local green infrastructure to make Herne Hill and its surrounding areas more resilient to flooding and improve the natural environment for wildlife.
(There are striking parallels here for us in Kingston as we too have been rethinking the Hogsmill river and South East Rivers Trust have been undertaking some lo…

Green Spaces Strategy Review Kingston Council Presentation 14.10.14

During the presentation we were informed that  the 706 ha of open space managed by Kingston Council includes:
350 ha of publicly owned open space; and 356 ha of privately owned open space in the borough (such as Six-Acre Meadow or Millais' meadow owned by Merton College). 
Since 2008, there has been efficiency savings of £400,000.The budget is currently £2.2 million compared with:
Wandsworth 607 ha £2.4 millionRichmond 500 ha £3.5 millionEaling 947 ha £2.8 million Contracts are coming up for renewal and further savings must be made. In this context it has made us appreciate some of progress made in the borough and we are anxious not to lose these gains.
We were able to make comments in notebooks  under various headings such as Biodiversity; Trees; Community Engagement etc.Under Biodiversity the list seem to be growing rapidly and  some of the comments included concern over: Dogs ring-barking trees around the borough;The unofficial landfill site at Clayton Road;Plans to develop Tolwor…

Tolworth Court Farm

There's a new site setting us on fire at the moment and that is TCF, Local Nature Reserve. The leader of the council has announced plans to turn this into a Country Park and he told a large audience what this might entail last night at the Kingston Biodiversity Network meeting at C-Scaipe Kingston University. So the burning questions last night were: What is a Country Park ?Would this give the site greater protection?Is this a Biodiversity Offset for the Tesco's development?Why focus on something that works when there are areas of deficiency in the borough.* an area of deficiency is defined by the GLA as to not have access to a Borough Grade 1 Site within 1 km of your home (not an area devoid of fish).
The plan seems to be to:
Remove some of the bunds;Use an offsite building owned by the council (previously a Bowls Pavilion) as an Educational Centre for school children; The archaeology of the site should be interpreted; and that More should be made of the area. 
Doesn't sou…

The Importance of Data-sharing

The Friends of Seething Wells were very grateful for the support they received from London Wildlife Trust and from GiGL who provided information on species recorded at Seething Wells. Juvenile grass snakes recorded during an ecological assessment of the site were evaluated as ‘common’ by the developer’s consultants. Yet records provided by GiGL showed that grass snakes were recorded at only four sites in the borough and that there was a complete absence of any breeding records. An officer from London Wildlife Trust appeared at the inquiry to give evidence of the site’s wildlife value. 
The Trust also enabled a visit to Woodberry Wetlands in Stoke Newington, an LWT managed waterworks site, which showed the practicalities of opening a former Thames Water utility site to members of the public. The information provided by GiGL and by the Trust, certainly assisted the development being refused permission. 
Unfortunately, at the time of writing, none of the data obtained by the developer’s…

June: Danica and Mink

June and the few patches of grassland that haven't succumbed to ash invasion on the eastern and northern slopes, show remnants of chalk grassland plants. There are three species of scabious, none of which are known elsewhere in the borough. An evening visit by boat to count the Daubenton's bats, found none emerging from the tunnel on this occasion.  However there was a good showing of noctule bats over the filter beds,  as well as a Leisler's bat closer to Taggs Boatyard.

The start of the fishing season and an increase in nocturnal observers has led to a number of MINK sightings. This includes along the  river wall at Seething Wells, let us know if you see them. An unusual number of May fly species including Ephemera danica or Green drake have been noted on vegetation and even on the pavement around the town centre.
Ephemera danica usually has a two year life cycle, however recent work has shown that in the warmer waters of Southern England it is able to complete its life …


The Filter Beds are full of bird activity at the moment, particularly from those aerial species that feast on insects. This is a bumper year for mayflies and you may have seen them on the pavements around the town centre, or if you live near the river finding that they come to grief on windows. 

Wagtails, martins and swifts and even the occasional swallow, can be seen hoovering up the biomass of insects generated from the water bodies. This includes thousands of damselflies and if you look carefully you can see them perching on stands of grasses.

Seething Wells University Campus Bat Walk

Twenty (predominantly) University staff and students gathered to participate in a campus bat walk. This is the first walk at Seething Wells and the last of the campi' to be investigated for bats. We started with a discussion of the historic buildings v. the new accommodation blocks and the merits of the Chelsea and Lambeth coalstores as potential roost sites (left to right above). At twenty minutes after sunset the first bat appeared at the back of the site where there is an strong vegetated corridor with mature horse chestnut and lime trees. This was a common pipistrelle but was later followed by soprano pipistrelles. Social calls between the two species were heard on the bat detection equipment, which had been supplied to the participants. The photos (above) indicate why it is that the campus retains its bat interest. The boundary vegetation is mature, generates and retains insects, acts as a light shield against streetlights, and offers protective cover as well as providing a b…

Dabchicks with chicks

At first sight the expanse of water below the Portsmouth Road can look empty, but  look carefully for any of the several pairs of little grebe or 'dabchick' hiding in the vegetation. 

Often you will just catch them upending or see the remaining ring of water after one of their lengthy dives, from where it seems they may never emerge.
 Last week a member of the Surbiton and District Birdwatching Society noted that one of the pairs had two chicks. Unfortunately, today there was only one being fed by its parent. Look out for the aerial summer visitors such as swift and sand martins, the former arrived last week, and the local numbers should build up over the next few days.
Whenever there is a change of traffic lights and a temporary respite in traffic noise, whitethroat can be heard singing from the stands of Spanish broom (now beginning to flower) and other scrubby areas.

The more robust ox-eye daisies have begun blooming, although most of the banks have scrubbed over with ash t…

Easter Bats

Last night the sky clouded over sufficiently to prevent the temperature descending too quickly, so we took a skiff along the River Thames to monitor the bat activity. 
Unfortunately, there did not appear to be any Daubenton's bats using the Barge Tunnel roost and there was little other early bat activity along Barge Walk.
However about fifty minutes after sunset the river came alive and as it grew dark several bats overflew the bank so we had superb views of foraging common and soprano pipistrelle bat.
There was a brief pass of a Natterer's bat followed a few minutes later by a passing Daubenton's bat but no great activity until we got to the R. Mole where the bats detectors started going berserk! Nathusius' pipistrelle featured briefly but no 'big' bats (noctules or Leisler's bats) indicating their maternity roosts may not yet have formed.
On the return we had limited foraging evidence of some Myotis bat species. The late arrival of these suggest they had…

New duck visitors are attracted to the raised water levels at the FB's!

April, and raised water levels have consolidated, which has influenced the range of species visiting the filter beds, although winter-visiting gadwall have now left for their breeding territories. The water quality is constantly improving and it is possible to view submerging tufted ducks looking for molluscs and aquatic insects as well as  seeds and vegetative parts of aquatic plants. There has been a small posse of tufties present all this year, the male a smart black and white and the female a dull brown.

There are  new arrivals to FB. 4, and these two red-crested pochards were displaying yesterday (showing an intention to breed). This is a plant feeder and dives for stems, roots and seeds of aquatic vegetation. In his display, the male passed these items to the female and it is useful to see that the FB's can now provide the range of food that these ducks seek. These are larger duck than  pochard, and there is a useful size comparison with a male pochard, which remains at FB.…