Sunday, 1 May 2016

The event that never happened - Cranford Park today

After my walk last Sunday around Cranford Park and the peace and quiet being disrupted by the radio controlled car enthusiasts yet again, I spent a fair bit of time during the last week researching what, if any, byelaws they were breaking.
With the help of several other Friends of Cranford Park (including Kish, Sue, Angie and particularly Edwina) it was discovered that they ARE breaking several byelaws, the main one being....
 
Using remote controlled model vehicles in a manner likely to cause nuisance from noise or cause harassment, alarm or distress to another person, without the express consent of the Council or the owner of the land.
 
This is clearly stated in the Public Spaces Protection Order issued by Hillingdon Council and which came into force on 1st June 2015 for a duration of 3 years.
 

 
In the 2014 Public Spaces Protection Order which came into force on 20th October 2014, Cranford Park was omitted from the list of parks the PSPO protects but in the amended 2015 one both Cranford Park and Lake Farm are listed....

 
Other byelaws they were breaking included section 13 under the Animals listing which states...
 
No person shall in the pleasure ground, save in the exercise of any lawful right or privilege, harry, ill-treat, injure, destroy or wilfully disturb any animal, bird, bird's egg or nest, or any other wild life, spread or use any snare, engine, instrument or other means for the taking, injury or destruction of any bird or animal.
 
And under section 14 part iii it states under the Nuisances act....
 
No person shall in the pleasure ground by playing or operating or causing or suffering to be played or operated any musical instruments, wireless loud-speaker or similar instrument make or cause or suffer to be made any noise which is so loud and so continuous or repeated as to give reasonable cause for annoyance to other persons in the pleasure ground.
 
So this morning armed with copies of the PSPO's from both 2014 and 2015, I was ready to confront the RC car enthusiasts.
I had also spent some time googling RC cars and was horrified to find a list of injuries sustained to humans when a RC car, particularly these big petrol run ones, have hit them. Fractured ankles, torn tendons, severe bruising and deep cuts were just a few. So if those sort of injuries could happen to a human, just imagine the sort of injuries that could be inflicted on a dog ! With so many regular dog walkers using the park this added fuel to the reasons why we don't want this group of RC car enthusiasts at Cranford Park.
 
But to soften the blow, Kish done some research and came up with the Remote World Model Car Club which suggests appropriate off road tracks in the area. The closest one to Cranford Park is in Slough......which is literally 10 minutes away from CP up the M4.
So I made up and printed off a few flyers with the address, contact numbers and emails addresses, intending to hand them out to the enthusiasts to show there were no hard feelings.....

 
The group of RC car enthusiasts have, for the past few Sundays since 3rd April, been meeting up by the Headland area of the park right on the outskirts of Cranford Woods between 10am and 11am.
 
This morning I was going to let them set up, get some video footage of how noisy and fast these petrol run cars are and then approach the group in a friendly manner.
 
Angie and Martin were positioned on Martin's bench waiting to see when they arrived whilst Sue and I lingered around the Headland area.
 
But they NEVER turned up !!!!
 
There can only be two reasons why. They've either got wind that we were going to confront them today OR it being a Bank Holiday weekend, they will turn up tomorrow instead.
 
Watch this space.....
 
So with peace and tranquillity restored for at least one Sunday, there were plenty of birds to watch in the Headland area for once....
 
More and more Common Whitethroats are arriving for the breeding season every day. What started with one last week, there are now at least ten chasing each other around and establishing territories.....
 

 
The male Linnet was singing from atop his usual tangle of brambles confirming for me that he and his missus are almost certainly nesting in there......

 
There was a Green Woodpecker 'yaffling' in the trees in the corner.....
 
 
and there were critters galore out and about in the warm sunshine, including one of my favourites, the Bee-fly.....
 
 
So from the last few Sundays when there has been hardly any wildlife around in the Headland area and on the edge of Cranford Woods, today it was teeming with bird song, butterflies and critters.
 
Elsewhere around the woods I found three species of Ladybird.
 
The Orange ladybird (Halyzia 16-guttata)...

 
This is one of the Harlequin ladybirds, possibly Harmonia axyridis succinea....

 
and this is our most often spotted ladybird, the lovely little Seven-spot (Coccinella 7-punctata)....

 
With it being so sunny and warm today, there were plenty of butterflies on the wing.
The Speckled Woods are now becoming territorial. There were lots of pairs battling it out and flying around in tight little circles. When they did eventually settle, it wasn't with wings flat out, but half open so they could be ready to launch into action again.....
 
 
There were still a few Small Tortoiseshell around. I managed to get two photos of separate butterflies with their wings closed. Not as pretty as when their wings are open, but still quite interesting to look at.....


 
As to be expected there were loads of Peacocks around. The flamboyant butterfly also looks more colourful when the wings are open...


 
I had two targets today, one was to get a photo of a female Orange Tip and the other was to get a photo of an Orange Tip on it's natural food source, the Cuckoo Flower.......
and eventually I managed both.

Female Orange Tip on bluebell.....

Female Orange Tip on dandelion.....

and finally a female Orange Tip on a Cuckoo Flower.....
 
It was an interesting day hanging around waiting for the event that never happened (ie the RC car enthusiasts V Cranford Park regulars), and there is every chance they may be at the park tomorrow or next Sunday. I will carry the PSPO's in my camera rucksack just in case.
 
 

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Butterflies and wild flowers at Cranford Park today

This morning at 8.30 I was sharing my breakfast as always, with the resident wood circle Robins.
Today we had oat cookie, raisins and some grapes....
 
 
Sadly also at the wood circle I came across a very sick young rabbit. Look away now if you're a bit squeamish..........
 
This poor rabbit has the beginnings of Myxomatosis, a really nasty man-introduced disease that affects both wild and domestic rabbits. This youngster will be dead within two weeks. It was very sad watching it out in the open feeding within a few feet of me, and twice I tried to usher it down the nearest warren. But I fear if the disease doesn't kill it, a predator will. There's nothing I can do, and I try to intervene in nature as less as possible. If I did catch it and take it to a vet, they wouldn't thank me as the disease is so contagious.
Sorry for the images....
 

 
This is the link to the Myxomatosis website which gives much more information about this awful disease. I've already contacted them so they can put out a Twitter alert for the TW5 area. As I state above, this disease can spread to pet rabbits and the society likes to make every pet rabbit owner aware if the disease is in their area.
 
This isn't the first time I've seen Myxomatosis at Cranford Park but the last outbreak I'm aware of was several years ago, and coincidentally I witnessed it at exactly the same rabbit warren.
 
It added a sad tinge to an otherwise glorious day. The skies were blue, there was barely a whisper of wind, even Martin had rolled up his trousers and was basking on his favoured bench in the sun. The temperature even hit double figures mid morning. There were birds singing, butterflies flying, wild flowers blooming and I got to see both Linnets and Stock Doves mating, though I wasn't lucky enough to get any photos.
 
I also caught a glimpse of one of the Buzzards land firstly on the edge of the nest, then drop in to it before hopping out again seconds later and flying away. This could have been the male bringing in food to the female who hopefully is incubating eggs now.
 
A few days ago a pair of teens were witnessed taking an air rifle in to the woods and firing it up at trees. The Police were called but I don't know if they caught the oiks. It's reasons like this that I purposely NEVER publicise exactly where I see nests. If it's a common bird like the Wren, then I will sometimes publicise the general area. The Wren's nest that Martin found is near the Information Centre but I'm not going to describe it's exact location. So with the Buzzard nest I wont be describing the general area nor the exact location. This is the first time that I know of, that Buzzards have chosen to nest at this wonderful park, and I will monitor it from a discreet distance and post updates on this blog.
 
Other great news, though not at Cranford Park, is that the first of the Peregrine eggs have hatched at Charing Cross. My good friend, Nathalie, monitors the birds there and has posted some lovely vid clips and photos of the young eyass being fed. You can follow their story on the Fulham and Barnes Peregrines Facebook page. Last year none of the eggs hatched and later analysis revealed they weren't fertilised, so this little two day old eyass is very special indeed.
 
Back to Cranford Park I was joined by Sue at lunchtime and we watched a male Blackcap singing right above our heads.....Lovely to hear but an achy neck to photograph....
 
 
The park really was looking glorious with all the fresh leaves emerging......


 
There were plenty of butterflies on the wing today and some were being very obliging and posing for a photo shoot....
 
There was this very tatty looking Peacock, well past looking it's best but there were several fresh ones out as well this morning.....
 
Peacock
 
Plenty of Green-veined Whites around today. The one below is a male. The females have slightly different and larger markings on the upper wings....

male Green-veined White
 
In the photo below of the underwing, you can see why they are called Green-veined Whites....

underwing of male Green-veined White
 
There were lots of Commas about. Most could be found sunning themselves on the ground.....

Comma
 
In the woodland there were a few fresh specimens of Speckled Woods out sourcing territories. I've always found these pretty butterflies are the most territorial. Once they've staked out a patch of their own, they will see off any others that dare fly through it.....

Speckled Wood
 
And my first tiny Holly Blue of the year settled right in front of me....
This is a male. The female has a thicker black band on the edge of its upper wing....

male Holly Blue
 
and the stunning markings of a male Holly Blue underwing...

underwing male Holly Blue
 
Emerging from the nettle patches were several Small Tortoiseshell....

Small Tortoiseshell
 
No underwing photo, but I did get a photo of it's head......

Small Tortoiseshell
 
I also had my first Orange Tip of the year. There were at least three males around the Headland area this morning. The males have the bright orange tips on the upper wing, and the females have the same sized black tips on their upper wing. I didn't see any females today but I bet I do on my next visit...

male Orange Tip
 
I tried to get an underwing shot of the Orange Tip but it was very flighty. The underwing is very intricately marked and beautiful....

male Orange Tip
 
After photographing butterflies, I turned my attention to the wild flowers that can now be seen at the park.
 
The bluebells are still putting on a good display.
The photo below is of the 'baddie' - the invasive Spanish Bluebell....
 
 
Note the upright thick stem, thick strappy leaves and large bell flowers whose petals don't quite curve all the way back.
Compared to our native true Bluebells photographed below.....

 
Thinner paler leaves, nodding heads of delicate flowers whose petals curve all the way back until they're almost touching the bell shaped flower.
 
Another way to tell the difference is to turn a bell upside down and check the colour of the pollen stamens. True Bluebells have creamy white stamens, the Spanish Bluebell has blue stamens.
 
A garden escapee is flowering in St Dunstan's church yard. This is a Wood Anemone, but not a true native one.
 
 
Along the alleyway leading to the underpass the path is flowering either side with the statuesque Green Alkanet. This is one of the earliest spring wild flower to bloom....

 
We have both Sweet Violets and Dog Violets at Cranford Park. This little lovely Sweet Violet has self seeded in a tiny crevice right by St Dunstan's church door....

 
There are lots of good sized spreads of Lesser Celandine all over the park and in the woods.....

 
The Ground Ivy has started flowering in the last week. The tiny delicate flowers have beautiful markings....

 
There are several small clumps of Forget Me Not in the church grounds. Not really a true wild flower but very pretty and which self seeds rapidly....

 
The Cuckoo Flowers are still popping up all over the church yard. My photo doesn't do them justice. They are a wonderful shade of pale dusky pink.....

 
I have only ever found Herb Robert in one particular area in Cranford Woods. But it's spreading really well and the patch is getting bigger each year....

 
There were more Red Campion in flower than a few days ago.....

 
White Dead Nettle is blooming every where. Very attractive to bees and hoverflies....

 
and the Red Dead Nettle is flowering as well....

 
Lastly, probably the most abundant wild flower is the one that flowers first, provides valuable nectar for all the early emerging bees, hoverflies and butterflies yet is the one that is mostly ignored, or even worse, purposely destroyed......
 
It's the humble Dandelion......
This one has attracted a hoverfly, Melanostoma scalare......

 
and Sue got a photo of a Tawny Mining Bee on another.
Scroll back through my photos above and you'll see how many butterflies are also attracted to this 'weed'.
 
It was a lovely day out on the patch. Six hours nature watching and over 14,000 steps on the Fitbit.
The only sour note was that poor young rabbit. I can only hope nature runs it's course sooner rather than later and that rabbit doesn't suffer for too long.