Wood Mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)
The Wood mouse, also known as the Long-tailed field mouse, is a small, wild rodent with a long tail of 7-9.5cm. It has dark brown fur with a pale underside and large eyes and ears. It is the most common and widespread mouse species in the British countryside, so it is not surprising to know that it is also here in Richmond Park. It is mainly found in woodlands, hedgerows, rough grasslands and gardens and lives in underground burrow systems, usually under the roots of trees or shrubs, which contain a series of nest chambers, runs and food stores. Their nests are commonly made of grass, moss and leaves, and they place conspicuous objects such as leaves or twigs at key positions in their territory. Interestingly, no other animal, apart from humans, is known to perform such way-marking behaviour. They do not hibernate, but simply use additional nesting material in the colder months. They eat berries, fruits, seeds, nuts, fungi and invertebrates, much of which is collected and stored underground so the autumn months are key to their food reserves and survival. Wood mice breed frequently from March to October and produce 4-7 litters. Wood mice have a short life span, partly because they have many predators, and are a vital source of food for other larger nocturnal hunters, particularly owls. However, wood mice are agile climbers so can leap high in the air when disturbed, and if it is caught by its tail, it has a useful escape strategy of being able to shed the skin of its tail very quickly!
Ham Gate Pond
The chestnut pale fencing, which previously surrounded Ham Gate Pond, has now been removed and replaced with new flat-bar fencing and gates, thanks to the kind contributions from the Friends of Richmond Park and the Visitor Centre. The pedestrian gate is now open for everyone to enjoy the pond and the wildlife it supports, but dogs are not permitted. It is an important refuge for many species of plants, birds, dragonflies and damselflies so please respect the sign. The pond also hosts a non-native invasive plant called Crassula helmsii so the pond may be closed to visitors on certain days to carry out essential work to control and prevent the spread of this plant and to undertake other tasks so it remains an important wildlife sanctuary.
Early autumn brings lower temperatures and an increase in the dampness, which allows the fruiting bodies of Fungi to emerge without drying out. Over 400 different types of fungi have been identified in Richmond Park, including Parasol mushrooms that can grow to the size of a saucer and the nationally rare Oak Polypore. Some species can be seen all year round but the abundance and variety displayed this month usually only last until the first hard frost. Fungi are decomposers of organic matter, surviving underground or within decaying wood and plants all year but emerging as mushrooms or toadstools in order to reproduce. Fungi are ecologically important, as they provide food and habitat to numerous insects and other animals and have a complex relationship with plants by supplying nutrients to their roots. Whilst some of these fruiting bodies are palatable to humans, many are not, but it is strictly forbidden to collect and pick fungi in the Park. It is also a criminal offence so please respect the signs and do not pick the mushrooms.
This is a very important month, as the deer will be rutting so you will probably hear the stags bellowing across the Park trying to attract as many females as possible. Please respect the deer and this natural behaviour by keeping at least 50 meters away from them and do not touch, feed or photograph the deer at close range.
Road resurfacing and repairs will continue to take place around Richmond Park into the beginning of October. This means that some gates or sections of the Park road will be closed for a period of time. For up to date and further information, please visit our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/RichmondParkLondon/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel or contact the Park Office on: 0300 061 2200. We’re sorry in advance for any inconvenience caused to your journeys.
“Please tread lightly in Richmond Park National Nature Reserve”