Oak Processionary Moth
May is the time of year when the caterpillars of this invasive Moth are on the move. The hairs of the caterpillars carry a toxin which can be a threat to human health, causing skin rashes, eye irritation and respiratory problems.
In late April/early May pesticide spraying will take place on oaks in busy areas and those where they have been previously infested. This will be followed by careful surveying of the whole park in June and July to locate nests which are then removed by specialist operatives using protective clothing and equipment.
If you come across the caterpillars or their webbed nests please do not touch them and keep children and pets away. Report any sightings to the Park office on 0300 061 2250.
Amphibian and Reptile surveys
March saw the start of amphibian surveys in the park which are set to continue during May and into the summer.
Artificial refugia for reptiles have also been set up in several locations across the park and these will be regularly checked throughout the season.
The surveys should confirm that particular species are still present in known areas but should also help to locate new records for the park. Having formal species records improves our knowledge of the site and can be used to inform management of existing habitats and the creation of new ones.
All the records from the surveys will be submitted to the London records centre GiGL (GreenSpace Information for Greater London).
The Azaleas and the species Rhododendron will still be in flower at the beginning of the month.
Evergreen azaleas include:
- 'Orange Beauty', the most orange of all.
- 'Rosebud' - opening buds resemble tine roses.
- 'Vuyk's Scarlet', larger flowers of a deep silky red.
Blue bells are in many areas of the gardens, but are most noticeable in Birch Glade. The trees will have the full leaf canopy by the end of the month giving shade for the summer months.
The main activities will be weeding and watering dependent on the weather conditions.
A large number of the UK's summer visiting migrants will have arrived in the country by now.
Here in Bushy Park, we have 10 birds that either breed within the park's boundary wall or visit from nearby water bodies. There used to be an additional 6 species that once bred in the park by no longer do so. This is mainly due to the National and global declines of these species rather than something that is occurring in the park.
The best areas to look for or listen out for these species are the park's enclosures or the areas that run alongside the Longford River. Here you should without much difficulty hear Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and maybe, if you have good hearing, you might be able to hear the scratchy sound of one of a male Reed Warbler coming from one of the Reed fringed pools in the Brew House Meadow area.
Our aerial feeders, the Swift, Swallow and House Martin will be seen hawking insects from above the grassy areas of the park or over the waters of the Diana Fountain. Careful scrutiny of these birds might reveal a handful of Sand Martins, there is a small colony on one of the islands in the nearby River Thames.
If you should hear distress calls coming from these feeding flocks it could be that the beautiful and very graceful Hobby is on the lookout for a meal. This little falcon is easily capable of taking one of these birds but can on warm evenings be seen hawking recently hatched May Flies.
Another small falcon that was once very scarce but is seen in increasing numbers during spring is the Red-footed Falcon. Its diet and shape mirrors that of the Hobby so any high flying small falcon is worth checking thoroughly.
For more bird news check out The Regent's Park Birds blog by Tony Duckett - it also covers Bushy Park.