Reminder- Deer rut advice for walkers
Deer are wild animals and can be unpredictable. Richmond Park is a nature reserve with herds of wild deer roaming freely. Deer can feel threatened by people and dogs even over long distances. This is particularly during the rut which starts in September and continues into October. We recommend keeping at least 50m from deer and give them the respect they need at this time.
Contractors are removing and burning Rhododendron ponticum in Sidmouth woods to restore the woodlands to the benefit of native wildlife. Please do not be alarmed if you see or smell smoke. The path that cuts through Sidmouth woods will also be cleared as it is dominated by very mature plants which may seed into the woodland.
Eels are curious snake-like fish. The young are born in the Sargasso Sea and migrate 4,000 miles to Europe. Metamorphosis occurs from the larval stage into small transparent small eels known as elvers. They enter freshwater rivers (including the Thames) and can move overland through wet grassland into ponds. As they grow they become yellow eels and after 5+ years in fresh water they change for a fourth time and become silver eels. Eels have been found in many of Richmond Parks ponds and rivers and can occasionally be seen hunting prey at dusk, or during the night if viewed with a torch. After 20 – 30 years eels return to the Sargasso Sea to breed and the life cycle begins again. However the number returning has reduced by 95% over the past 25 years and they are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Running event – partial road closures
On Saturday 18 October the park road will be closed from Roehampton Car Park to Kingston Car Park. In addition the road between Kingston Gate and Ham Cross will be closed for a short period in the morning. The event is a 5, 10 or 15 km run exclusively for women – entry via www.Humanrace.co.uk
Horse chestnut trees
The Horse chestnut tree was introduced to the UK from south-east Europe. When the leaves fall in autumn the stalks leave a scar on the twig in the shape of a horseshoe with small dots resembling nails - hence the name. The seeds (conkers) are mildly poisonous to horses but deer can digest them and indeed, they form an essential part of their diet before winter. Being non-native, they support less wildlife than native trees but we value them as fantastic landscape trees, especially in spring when they are covered in tall candlestick blossoms. Of course, the seeds are enjoyed by school children playing conkers, but during both world wars they were collected and used in the manufacture of cordite. Horse chestnuts are affected by a leaf mining moth in late summer but of particular concern is the disease Bleeding Canker which can kill the tree.