Railway Fields – ” a lifetime of interest”

Recently our most venerable & respected local conservationist, David Bevan, spoke at Stroud Green Library about Railway Fields, its history, humans who helped make it what it is, and the wild plants and animals who live there. Highlights –
David said ‘Railway Fields can present a lifetime of interest. It’s the most wonderful resource’. Did you know –
The railway opened 1868, so now 150 years old
• Forerunner of David Bevan (Conservation Manager) was David Hope (well named!)
• David Bevan arrived 1989; David Perry also involved (so many Davids…)
• The Council had a community centre there in 1980, building was burnt down
• 1985 Mural of steam engine on wall, later got replaced by doctor’s surgery!

• Railways and their edges are a route for plants & animals to get about
• Ditto the New River which runs along one side of RF
• So Railway Fields is an ecological corridor
• The True Service Tree seeded itself into the hedge
• Originally RF was a coal yard, some chalk also stored
• Speckled wood butterfly feeds not on nectar but honeydew!
• The pond was dug in 1987, white liner protects black liner
• Pond a success – 7 kinds of dragonfly
• Top of food chain at pond is the heron

• The original gate was covered in white bryony
• No one knows where it came from
• Jan Wilson raised money for the wrought iron gate
• It was made by Heather Burrell (of later Olympic Park fame)
• Heather walked the site with David
• And incorporated plants & animals of site into the design
• These include a strange geranium discovered by David Bevan’s father
• And field maple tree, butterfly, fox, Haringey knotweed etc
• Haringey knotweed new to science, discovered by David 1987
• It’s also known as Railway Knotweed
• It only flowered once, in 1987 cos it’s got shaded by trees
• It dies back when frost come
• It is the only extant plant of its kind in England
• Stinking Iris or Gladden is a garden escape in London
• It also grows on the Parkland Walk
• Goldenrod had disappeared from London, appeared suddenly at RF (still there)
• The birches in front of the cabin planted 1981
• Guernsey fleabane used to grow near cabin
• Blackberries important to success of David’s summer programme for kids!
• 100 kinds of caterpillars feed on the hawthorn!
• Nest boxes need sterilisation to avoid harmful invertebrates getting in
• Rosebay willowherb supports the elephant hawk moth caterpillar
• David bred and reared moths and butterflies at RF
• The emperor moth used live there

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Summer Event July 2018

It was lovely to see so many people at our Summer Fair. Thank you to everyone for making it such an enjoyable afternoon.

 

We were fortunate to have so many enthusiastic pond dippers, who found plenty of snails and leeches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A huge thank you to our judges for choosing the winners of The Lost Words Poetry Competition. Congratulations to all the winners. It is fantastic that there are so many young poets out there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course there was always time for tea and cake. There should have been a special prize for this amazing panda cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nightlife – real life

Trap for bats at Railway Fields

What an astonishing night at Railway Fields last Saturday! Bat expert Huma and her two volunteers set up a bat trap and the public saw bats close up, in real life, held in the hand, before ringing and release. No bat photo ever appealed to me in the slightest. In real life they were beautiful, perfectly-made, heart-achingly vulnerable. I’ll never feel the same about bats. It was a surprise in more ways than one  – We’d expected only a bat walk.

E-bay is where you can buy nearly anything, that’s where we got the owl pellets that are coughed up by owls!! Why? Cos they’re fascinating to dissect, inside are the tiny bones of their prey: mice, voles, shrews etc. The Cabin was full of people

Grandfather & child dissect owl pellets in Cabin

who Lizzy helped pick out the bones using pincers, water and trays. They found a jaw-bone with miniscule teeth, a lilliputian femur etc. We used a microscope connected to laptop for close view. For people who missed the owl activity, there are still some pellets Lizzy can help you investigate on Saturday 30th September (10.30am-12.30pm).

We also set a moth-trap which attracted a small number of colourful creatures, released unharmed afterwards into Railway Fields’ beautiful habitats.  Doing that is almost the best part.

 

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Small worlds in focus

It was great to welcome so many people to Railway Fields for our summer event, Nature Discovery Day, on Saturday 29 July – especially given the less-than-ideal weather!

Here’s a look at some of the stunning images we captured during our projecting microscope show, which gave visitors a magnified view of some of Railway Fields’ insects and plants live on the big screen.

There were two nature walks – on bees and plant/habitat management at Railway Fields – and visitors also enjoyed pond-dipping, minibeast safaris and wildlife art. Plus it was the perfect weather to play in the mud kitchen!

Congratulations to Alice, who entered our Twitter photo challenge and won a Big Green Bookshop voucher – many thanks to our friends at the Big Green Bookshop for donating the prize.

We also welcomed Cllrs Peray Ahmet, Emina Ibrahim and Zena Brabazon, who helped us raise Railway Fields’ recently re-awarded Green Flag.

A big thank you to all the volunteers who helped on the day and who baked delicious cakes for our refreshments stand, and to our walk leaders Quentin Given and Clif Osborne.

Visitors said:

“An oasis in this busy street. An excellent place to bring children to instil in them the love of nature.”

“We enjoyed the little beast trail and seeing the tiny beasts under the microscope.”

“Love the mud kitchen.”

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Getting up close to nature

A huge thank you to everyone who came along to our summer event on 30 July – hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! There were a range of activities designed to help you ‘get up close to nature’ – including pond-dipping and a minibeast safari, a walk and talk by renowned naturalist (and the Friends’ very own Patron) David Bevan, family wildlife art and a look at some of Railway Fields’ creatures and plants under our amazing new projecting microscope.

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Lacewing eggs – photo by Michael Warhurst

We challenged visitors to Tweet their own photos from the event – check out #FoRFphotos to see the results. Congratulations to winner Michael Warhurst, who took this wonderful picture of lacewing eggs, which are laid on stalks to protect them from predation.

There were more special finds on the day too – including a slow worm, a beautiful small emerald moth and a spectacular (and very hairy) gypsy moth caterpillar.

Once again, a huge thank you to everyone who supported the event, either by coming along and taking part or helping on the day.

 

Here’s some of the feedback we received:

“The microscope thing was SUPER!!”

“Today was a special day because I learned more about animals.”

“We’ve had a lovely afternoon. My four-year-old found it all fascinating and engaging.”

“I liked the drawing.”

“Inspiring. Thank you for a beautiful afternoon.”

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Photos by Lizzy, Helen and Paul.

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Six months of Railway Fields happiness

A few memories of Railway Fields from my 2015 diary.

Last Saturday in January– I helped Friends dig out cherry suckers near the stag beetle loggery. Clif (our great TCV site manager) said a sparrowhawk had been round during the week. In a fallen tree, Keith found an empty wren’s nest which has stayed in the cabin all year for people to marvel at. And children fashioned nests for Family Wildlife Art.

Some of the Friends

Some of the Friends

Last Sat in February – Caroline, Bob, Anna, Clif and I witnessed a heron approach on foot through the meadow to hunt for frogs in the pond. He was undeterred by harassment from a crow who followed him about in comical fashion. We saw the heron catch and eat a frog. A pair of long tailed tits (‘flying teaspoons’) flew back and forth to a tree with plumes of the plant called old man’s beard –  for their nest.

March – Frogs, frogs, frogs galore in the pond. About 25 of them, with gold rings round their eyes, handsome white ‘collars’ under their chins, swimming froggily,touching one another on the nose sometimes, a few mating, and a wonderful loud croaky chorus to be heard.

BlackcapLast Sat in April– A blackcap sang beautifully as I made my way up the path and I saw him too – his little black cap at that jaunty angle. There was a great volunteer turnout and we removed lots of Japanese knotweed. Jenny and I identified wild plants in the new Back Meadow near the playground. The pond had plenty of newts – males in mating colours – and gorgeous creatures called the Hairy Footed Flower Bees were feeding in the white comfrey outside the cabin.

Making a dead hedge

Caroline making a dead hedge. These are great fences and harbour many creatures.

Last Sat in May – We removed hogweed from the meadow. I love hogweed cos it really does smell of pigs, but it can take over. The meadow was filling up with the fabulous yellow rattle wildflower that Clif planted last year to help other wildflowers thrive and reduce grasses. We came across two frogs, one of which was ginger! Jenny and I surveyed the new Back Meadow again, which is now crowded with small flowers, especially herb bennett.

Photo: Sandra Roberts

Photo: Sandra Roberts

 

 

Last Sat in June – Wildflower Saturday went well. Lizzy and I led a joint session for adults and children. The focus was six wild flowers on site: teasel (pictured), bramble, bacon-and-eggs, purple deadnettle, stinking iris and bindweed. Lizzy also did great crafts with children

With seasons greetings, Mary Hogan

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25 Years of Fungi Fun in Harringay

IMG_2342Last month it was the 25th Annual Harringay Fungi Foray. This long running event was set up by local naturalist David Bevan and continued by Ted Tuddenham. This year the foray was lead by Al Skipp, Mark Spencer and Keir Mottram. The foray started at Railway Fields with a brief introduction of what fungi are and a search around the site. There the most common finds were candlesnuff fungus, scaly earthball and jelly ear.  Then the group moved on to Queens Wood, where 55 different species of mushrooms were found, including some edibles. The final site was Alexandra Palace Park, where over 60 different species were found, including 7 species of colourful waxcaps. The variety of waxcaps found at Ally Pally is a good indicator of a diverse, unimproved (free from fertilisers) grassland habitat. Then it was time to return to Railway Fields for a taster of the edible mushrooms, which included trooping funnel, hen of the woods and shaggy ink caps (kindly brought along by Mario, from Kensington Gardens, along with a giant puffball, big enough to feed 30 people).

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A big thank you to everyone who came along, and especially to those who helped with the transport.

 

 

 

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