‘The Wood’ is a beautiful little nature reserve, nestled just behind Surbiton station. This secluded patch of woodland is also connected to the Richard Jefferies bird sanctuary, named after a nature writer born in 1848 who lived in Surbiton for some of his life.
This little patch has fantastic potential to be a haven for wildlife, with badger sets and woodpeckers calling from the canopy.
It was a beautifully crisp morning on the 17th of February, there was not a cloud in the sky above, green woodpecker calls were reverberating around the site as cheerful volunteers arrived for a day of volunteering with the Friends of Manor Park.
The day had two aims, one was to continue litter picking from around the park and one was to create a new woodland path through the eastern copse, which separates the cricket field from a tussocky grassland meadow which is speckled with yellow meadow ant hills.
On the 10th of February, red kites sored overhead chasing ring-necked parakeets, while long tailed tits and a pair of goldcrests hopped among the silver birch and oak trees which stood leafless on a cold winters morning. Over the past three months we have been working with the Kingston University Biodiversity Action Group, to clear invasive rhododendron from their Kingston Hill campus which can be really damaging to the health of a woodland and the species which rely on it.
On Saturday the 3rd of February, raindrops were falling over the Queens Prominade in Kingston. However, this did not seem to concern a pair of beautiful great crested grebes who were diving to catch fish. The poor weather also did not deter the 25 fantastic volunteers, who joined us to take part in a wide spread litter pick and do some formative pruning of the vegetation.
The 31st of January 2018 will be remembered by most for the ‘super blue blood moon’, though as it could not be viewed over the Berrylands nature reserve, I will remember it for our volunteer day which saw 9 volunteers join me to help prepare the area for the upcoming river restoration works.
Following a week of torrential weather, the sun was beaming with a magnificently blue sky on the morning of the 25th. Which was great news as we had planned a day of conservation, continuing the good work that we had started the previous Saturday.
It was a damp start to the day on the 20th January, though great spotted woodpeckers were still tapping away in the canopy and a goldcrest was hopping around in an old blackthorn hedge. The wet weather did not even deter the 20 hardcore volunteers who arrived at the Raeburn Open Space Local Nature Reserve to get stuck in with a day of conservation work. The day had a slightly delayed start as the boggy conditions, meant that my younger brother got the car stuck in the field after unloading the tools for the day.
Clouds hung over Kingston Hill campus, on the Saturday the 13th of January – marking our first open volunteer event of 2018. The plan was to continue the hard work that we had been undertaking over the last two months, removing rhododendron from the woodland which surrounds the campus. As mentioned in previous blogs there are 1,024 species of rhododendron across the world many are rare, and it is even the national flower of Nepal.
Frost was covering the ground with a sub-zero start to the day on Saturday 9th of December. Though this did not seem to affect the red wings, long tailed tits, jays and great spotted wood peckers which were all darting from tree to tree as Sivi the Biodiversity and Landscape manager for Kington University and myself prepared the site for our volunteers.
On the afternoon of the 6th of December, as starlings and redwings flew overhead 16 smiling staff from Kingston’s Unilever branch arrived at the Tolworth Court Farm Moated Manor nature reserve. This 2.7-hectare site, nestled away on the Surrey London border has a wealth of local history dating back to the medieval era, where a moated manor once stood. However now the site is a haven for wildlife with a meadow speckled with yellow meadow ant hills, a pond providing habitat for a wealth of invertebrates and amphibians and woodland with badger sets and old oaks.