Month: October 2020

What to see & do in October

The nights are drawing in and we’ve seen a bit more rain but it doesn’t mean that we need to stay indoors!  The ‘there’s no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing’ quote is one which has a lot of truth to it so, once you’ve wrapped up and ventured outside, what can you expect to find?

Autumn Trees by Jane Ruhland

Blazing branches 

October is the month in which to see the leaves on the trees changing colour.  This is a visible signal of the physical and chemical changes going on inside the plant as it prepares for winter but it’s also absolutely glorious to look at.  Trees full of leaves which are vibrant reds, oranges and yellows, looking like they’re on fire in the sunshine, are a sight to behold and it’s not around for long so now is the time to get out and see it. 

Fabulous fungi

Wherever you’re out and about, start looking for signs of fungi – on trees, forest floors and in your own gardens.  Weird and wonderful, there’s around 15,000 species of wild mushroom found in the UK so you’ve got your work cut out to see them all! Mushrooms and fungi can be poisonous so it’s always best to look and not touch.  You can see a list of the ten most common UK species in this handy guide.

Autumn fungi by Susan Quirke

Watch wildlife 

Wildlife remains active in October with lots of magical displays of behaviour.  You can watch the arrival of migrant birds such as Waxwing, Redwing and Fieldfares. Listen out for the thin “Tseep-tseep” calls of these migrants overhead at night. Get on down to the London Wetlands Centre in Barnes for a spectacle of newly arrived wading birds, ducks and geese.  Head to Richmond Park and try to catch a glimpse of deer rutting (from a safe distance!).   You can admire intricate spider webs bejewelled with rain drops and watch out for busy squirrels and jays foraging for nuts to hoard!

Red Deer portrait by David Gordon Davy

Record what you see

A lot of the work we do at EWG can feed into larger studies and networks, when we get the time to collate and submit our records.  We’re big believers in ‘Think Global, Act Local’ – doing what you can in your local area to help out.  Recording what you see can help UK wide studies understand things like how climate change is affecting our planet or could help highlight other issues which may be present in our environment.  Citizen science! The Woodland Trust’s Natures Calendar is just one way in which you can get involved and help.  Not only does it help you spot and identify nature in your local area, you will also be helping to monitor the health and biodiversity of our planet! Others include Greenspace Information for Greater London or GiGL (https://www.gigl.org.uk/). So if you’ve seen a hedgehog or a slow worm, an unusual butterfly or bird get your records in!

Fresh discussions & alternative visions on the future of Warren Farm

Dear friends, 

As many are aware, the long and complicated battle to save Warren Farm from development by QPR reached another milestone earlier this year with the football club pulling out of the proposed redevelopment scheme. This is perhaps in no small part due to the renewed pressure, most recent legal challenge and determined campaigning from local group Hanwell Nature over the past couple of years. There were undoubtedly also factors around the plans for runway expansion at Heathrow changing which have altered the situation for QPR, and of course Covid-19 having an impact on everyone’s budgets and future plans.

It should also be recognised that many groups and individuals have played a role in creating the remarkably rich site for biodiversity it has become today. Whether that was the previous campaign group ‘Save Warren Farm’ delaying the site’s development with their legal challenges. Or individuals influencing planning departments within QPR and Ealing Council with a more collaborative than combative approach behind the scenes. Or indeed the Council Parks and Ranger team themselves deciding to stop mowing the site so that it could rewild and be of value to nature whilst the legal challenges rumbled on. In any case the situation we’re in today has been a cumulative effort. The site is a wonderful biodiversity asset which shows what happens when nature is allowed to do its own thing for a while. 

Barn Owl
Barn Owl by Nigel Bewley

Since the inception of the QPR plan in 2013, time has moved on and the world is a very different place. A climate emergency has been declared and biodiversity is in catastrophic decline. In an increasingly urbanised environment, the importance of large scale and connected green spaces for local residents and nature cannot be underestimated. We’ve all seen the mental wellbeing benefits of getting out in nature during Covid-19 lockdown. 

Wryneck by Nigel Bewley

Although, in the past, the issue of Warren Farm has attracted heated debate, differing opinions and at times hostile relations between stakeholders and members of our local community, there’s a unique opportunity at this point in time to reassess and re-unify on what is important for the site. Together, moving forward. 

So I personally was delighted to see the Brent River and Canal Society (BRCS), who Ealing Wildlife Group have worked closely with in the past, come out yesterday with their alternative vision for Warren Farm. Take a look here:

http://www.brcs.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/BRCS-vision-for-Warren-Farm.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2tbdm3EJi_-TnQBQOhqrD1Eg1-bk8LozlMZXGvM2mf0WveyflNoQiuF10

It’s very similar to the alternative vision for Warren Farm that I drafted several months ago (but haven’t yet posted publicly). I’ve discussed it briefly with both the Council and Hanwell Nature. Local Lib Dem members have spoken out on the need for a new vision too. We’re all suggesting a similar thing because it makes sense. It’s practical, collaborative and solutions based. We need to get behind nature based solutions to the dire state our planet is in at the moment.

The vision I’ve discussed could take several approaches including making the Warren Farm site an official Local Nature Reserve (LNR), as BRCS are now calling for. It could also be a collaboration with the Council to make sure there is space for nature alongside sports facilities, if indeed that is still the plan for the site. Or it could be that a newly formed collective leads the way on a ‘bigger, better, more joined up’ scheme incorporating Long Wood, the Earl of Jersey Field, Warren Farm and the Imperial College land adjacent to create an even larger scale flagship and pioneering London urban rewilding project with a visitor centre. Wouldn’t that be something?!

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar by Kish Woolmore

There’s lots to consider and I’m sure many in the community are wondering ‘what’s next’ for the site? It doesn’t seem the Warren Farm saga is over especially considering this quote from Council leader Julian Bell following the announcement that QPR had pulled out:

“Warren Farm has always been a playing field and our ambition to develop first class sporting facilities for the borough’s young people remains unchanged. We will be looking at how this can be funded once the Covid-19 emergency is over”

The time is now ripe for change and to see an alternative vision suggested. There have been exorbitant legal costs on both sides of the Warren Farm debate which have only resulted in the stalemate scenario we see today. Money that could have been put to very good use in a constructive way for the site. So I congratulate and commend BRCS for putting such a well thought out document and proposal together to put forward to the Council. I truly believe the only way forward is to be open to all possibilities, explore and respect all stakeholders’ opinions or needs, and work together for the best solution for people and nature. And I hope the Council will take the suggestion seriously and consider it carefully in their decisions.

Ealing Wildlife Group firmly and fully support it. Well done BRCS!

Regards,

Dr Sean McCormack

Founder and Chair, Ealing Wildlife Group