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Helping Nature Thrive Campaign, Keep Wildlife Wild

Helping Nature Thrive Campaign, Keep Wildlife Wild

An Update
The sub heading to the one above could be “Snooping and Prowling round the Parks”. It’s an occupation I tried out about a week ago and I don’t recommend it. I wanted to give you all some feedback on how well the campaign might be going, had the message made a difference and so on.

After a morning which started wonderfully in the Rose Garden in Hyde Park where the ‘Diana the Huntress’ fountain (photo above) splashed and sparkled in the sunlight, I stepped out on the lookout for transgressors. This does your soul no good at all and you end up feeling low and cross.

New readers start here. The Royal Parks (TRP) have launched a campaign to:

- Remind visitors that the Parks are important refuges for nature and encourage them to adopt behaviour to help nature thrive.

- Raise awareness of threats to biodiversity in both Parks (for example climate change, increased visitor footfall, spread of plant and animal diseases).

- Publicise what TRP are doing to help nature in the face of these challenges.

The campaign is about education, not enforcement.
In our blog of July 3rd, I described how excessive feeding, for example, has encouraged large populations of birds which would normally only number a very few in the space Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens has to support these populations.

Bird behaviour has changed, water quality has deteriorated (piles of bread rotting in it), vermin increased, huge numbers have resulted in bullying from dominant species and smaller, shyer birds are disappearing.
If you missed this blog it can be seen on our website in the ‘news’ section.

Signs have been installed all over both Parks in areas where normally people gather in numbers with (sometimes) trolley loads of supermarket bread to hurl into a seething bunch of swans and geese.

Sit on a bench and feed the birds, no need to stand up, they’ll come to you

On the day I was on the prowl, there were only about two people feeding along the Serpentine and they were being very surreptitious about it. One man had cargo shorts on with huge deep pockets which were stuffed with bread. Every now and then, handfuls of bread flew out of a pocket and were thrown down without him looking down or pausing in his stride. He was followed like the Pied Piper by a train of keen birds. Where’s the pleasure in that when he couldn’t even stop to look at them? I snapped a gent who had concealed, when he saw me approach, a plastic bag of bread.
Despite a notice close by!

There were plenty of new notices and some of the new bins carry the same message about not feeding the wildlife. The Parks were quiet, I admit, as it was a very hot day, and there might be a different picture in cooler weather. Without Rangers to explain, and with more visitors and tourists in the future, I wonder how better behaviour can be sustained. Manager Jason Taylor agreed with me. He said he too had noticed fewer feeders and certainly the same pattern with covert feeding. He was going to liaise with other managers to get feed- back(!) from them too.

Over to Kensington Gardens, still snooping.
No parakeet feeding visitors having their photos taken, though evidence of parrot friends as plenty of apples rammed onto the spiked railings, and no one feeding swans by Peter Pan. I have recently stood and counted the huge numbers here (175 in 2020 up from 13 in 1990 in both Parks).

On to the Round Pond, which has recently in the hot weather been very whiffy. Several members have asked about it. I gather it’s a combination of the heat and the vegetation in the bottom of the pond rotting and breaking down, which is normal.
Please keep dogs on lead

And amongst the huge amount of goose droppings and shed feathers, there are normally a few visitors with push chairs loaded with bird junk food, but not today. Instead, there was a woman repeatedly throwing a ball for her dog to dive into the water and swim for the ball. So much for the notices telling visitors to keep dogs on leads in this area.
In South Flower Walk there are no new signs (squirrel and pigeon feeding is the occupation here). There is one on the gates at each end and half way along, warning about no cycling, dogs on leads and feeding, and about one or maybe two on the railings half way along, but that’s it. Actually, for the last two or three times visiting this area, I have seen fewer squirrels and so have friends who I’ve asked. At the end of this you do, as I said above, feel rotten.

From the end of July to the beginning of September the message is to leave no rubbish behind, to clear up after yourselves and be sensitive as to where you decide to settle for your picnic. As during the first lock down visitors were seen sunbathing and picnicking in the middle of flower beds, this message is very much needed. We will update you in September.

Rescheduling Hyde Park Events
As all members know, Hyde Park now has to raise nearly all the funding to run themselves as part of the Royal Parks Charity. Money raised through catering outlets makes a considerable contribution, as do commercial rents, and above all major events which bring in much needed income.

We wrote some time back about a decision by the BBC to take their Proms in the Park and Last Night of the Proms away from London and relocate them somewhere else in the UK. These filled a slot over a weekend in September. In addition, Covid has been a blow for Royal Parks income and without this funding we would soon notice a deterioration in the high standards in our Parks which we have come to expect and, I hope, not take for granted.
British Summer Time Concert 2019

TRP has looked at various options to use these now available slots and would like to add them to the June/July British Summer Time Hyde Park series of concerts. This has been successful for a number of years and had built up a pretty reasonable mid week programme, for both local community events and a free access to all varied entertainment programme.

The licence for two weekends of concerts would need to be extended to three weekends. There would be nothing on the Parade ground from the derig in July to the start of construction for Winter Wonderland.

Another benefit would be for all residents who live north of the Park as traffic movements to build/break would be restricted to one (longish) event only.

It is not an option to have nothing to replace the two missing concerts, the financial impact of COVID on TRP was been very hard and the loss each year is unsustainable without the income from events.
The fun of the fair at the BST event 2019

So the bad news, for those of you who don’t like the music, is that the concerts will take place on 24/25/26 June, 1/2/3 July and 8/9/10 July. Sound management is going to be worked on to make use of new technologies, and the angle of the stage will be adjusted. All the arrangements over management of ingress, egress, traffic impact, cleaning and stewarding will continue, and there will always be close liaison with local communities.

There will be two weeks of mid week programmes, and we hope that we will once again be able to run our plant sales which were so popular. As stakeholders are consulted, this information will gradually filter out into the press and I really want our members to be early in the loop to hear the news.

Can you guess?
One of our members, Vickie Irwin, has asked what these steel rings are for. They are fixed in the ground in North Flower Walk.
Can you guess?
Answer below.

The Bandstand in Hyde Park
The poor bandstand, along with other monuments in both Parks, got vandalised during the lockdowns and especially during the good weather in the first one. Groups of youths gathered at the bandstand, played very loud music and drank a lot, leaving behind piles of rubbish and smashed glass and evidence of all sorts of antisocial behaviour. During one of the massive illegal gatherings on the Parade Ground, the bandstand and other things round it sustained quite a lot of graffiti. The decision was made to clean it up and close it off. It is clean but still closed, and looking rather sad and sorry, but Jason has just told me that it will be repainted in the next few days. But does he dare open it up for access to all again? I forgot to ask.

Two summers ago, the Friends arranged and financed a series of very successful concerts here which were much appreciated by everybody. We do hope to be in a position to be able to have these back next summer.

Serpentine Gallery
The Summer Pavilion

We have all seen reviews of this year’s stunning Pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery. It’s worth dropping in to enjoy its strong lines over a cappuccino, and while you’re there do look over to the temporary sculpture spot beside the gallery in Kensington Gardens for an ethereal contrast. This one seems to float against the trees and is not obvious at first glance. Both interesting and to enjoy now as they are both temporary and won’t be with us for very long.
Temporary sculpture - Light as thistledown

Summer Hols.
Your chair and membership secretary need a break:
Lynden Easton is the latter with about a dozen other things attached to her voluntary role. She lays out and sends by Mail Chimp all the things we want to circulate. She is also so good about writing kind letters to members’ families when we hear that someone has passed away, or there is illness, and also spends time talking on the phone to many of our very longstanding members who have no email. She works hard on her massive garden in the country and has a project to get it looking perfect for a daughter’s wedding in just over a year. The former is me, Sue Price. I am pleased to be by the water for a break, and from time to time sailing my tiny boat (which was given to me as a special birthday present, the number of the special birthday is a closely held secret).

We will of course let you know about any major news involving our parks as you are all important stakeholders. And we will restart our regular updates on the weekend of September 11/12.

For your diaries
We will also be circulating later in August, information about a couple of events for members in the Autumn. One is a tree walk with our old (young) friend, Greg Packman, on Weds 15th September at 11am and the other is a tour of the Hyde Park Super Nursery when it is stuffed with Autumn/Spring bedding plants, thanks to Mike Jones, on Weds 22nd September at 5pm. Booking not open yet.

Answer to the puzzle above
The rings used to have the benches chained to them to stop them wandering. Now, however, the benches (and there are masses of them in North Flower Walk) are chained to a nearby railing or, if that’s not available, they are bolted directly into the ground.

Have a wonderful summer!

Sue Price
30th July 2021

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