The 'Woods' and The Richard Jefferies Bird Sanctuary Surbiton

Site of Borough Importance Grade 2  TQ 182671

oak trees at the Woods 
This small park in the Oak Hill area of Surbiton, includes a fenced portion, forming a bird sanctuary. The London Ecology Unit (1992) found that the park and the reserve are of nature conservation value and it is designated a Site of Borough Importance. Early Ordinance Survey maps show an elongated lake along the foot of the steep slope in the Sanctuary with a large house and lawns. The lake was left after clay for brickmaking was removed (as per Fishponds) hence the slope down to a wet flush with huge conservation potential.

The council purchased the site in 1947 and the name Richard Jefferies was bestowed on the eastern portion of the site after one of Surbiton’s most famous residents (who often mentioned our borough in his writings). The public part of the Park known as the Woods, consists of mown grass and mature woodland with encroaching self-sown sycamore and Turkey oak. There are patches of  garden shrubs such as snowberry and brambles have colonised some areas. Most frequently encountered are Ramsons a member of the onion family, giving the 'Woods' it characteristic Spring smell.

In former years, the council have commissioned breeding bird surveys, which have demonstrated  a strong woodland bird community is  represented here, including great spotted woodpecker and tawny owl. When the site was less overgrown, kestrels bred in boxes provided at the sanctuary. A recent brief visit showed that this site is still popular with many woodland bird species some of which are on the JNCC red-list of Conservation Concern (refer to Table).

 Table of Anecdotal Records 6.6.12

Scientific name
English name

Columba palumbus
Wood Pigeon
Strix aluco
Tawny Owl
calling overhead
Apus apus
foraging overhead
Dendrocopos major
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Troglodytes troglodytes
4 territories
Turdus merula
Common Blackbird
Turdus philomelos
Song Thrush
3 territories (one in the sanctuary)
Sylvia atricapilla
2 territories
Regulus regulus
Parus major
Great Tit
Foraging for food
Nyctalus noctula
Noctule Bat
sunset + 29mins
Pipistrellus pygmaeus
Soprano Pipistrelle
first arrival sunset s+8mins but least activity
Pipistrellus pipistrellus
Common Pipistrelle
later arrival sunset+15mins but remains foraging especially NE quadrant until 21.50


  1. Very interested to see Richard Jefferies' name here. You can see my blog post on Jefferies in Surrey at


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