The winter lockdown starts to ease on 8th March when schools return. But with shops, hospitality and sports venues still closed, and the spring weather improving, the park will continue to be extremely busy, especially at peak times. The earliest significant change to the park operation will not occur until at least 12th April when outdoor seating in food establishments can return. This will mean that picnic benches can return to the park, and we are hoping the park starts to get a little less busy as other destinations begin to open again.
The media has reported that the change in working habits over the last twelve months has resulted in an increase in dog ownership, rise in value for a new puppy and an increase in dog thefts. Whilst this might be worrying it also reminds dog owners of the need to equip their dogs with a collar and tag with contact details. It is not uncommon for dogs and their owners to become separated and when this happens a member of the public inevitably notices the dog and helps. If the dog has a collar and tag with a mobile phone number, the incident is very quickly resolved, but relying on the security chip alone means the dog will need to be taken to a vet or borough council dog warden to read it. Even if the details for the dog on the system are correct, it inevitably delays people being reunited with their beloved pets. Occasionally it can take a few days, incurring kennelling costs and resulting in separation anxiety for the dog. Owners are therefore required to always have a tag on their dog and it’s sensible to keep a spare in case the tag gets lost.
The courtship behaviour of breeding birds is starting to become evident and skylarks are performing their fantastic displays in various locations around the park. As ground nesting birds they are particularly vulnerable to disturbance. Dogs have a habit of running randomly away from paths and so the dogs on leads zones have been implemented from 1st March. Last year around 18 skylark territories were identified across the park. The increase in visitor numbers during lockdown has the potential to increase the levels of disturbance to these vulnerable and rare birds. It is particularly important to be sensitive to wildlife and pay close attention to the signs around the park during this difficult period.
Toad in the Road! (and frogs and newts!)
If you cycle through the park at night, please watch out for amphibians on the road when it’s wet. Frogs, toads and newts come out of hibernation to mate in the parks ponds and they cross the road very slowly. If the weather has been dry and/or cold, the 1st wet mild evening in spring will see them emerge. Frogs and toads look much like leaves and newts look much like a small stick – please be careful not to squash any!