NEW COMMUNITY LED SKYLARK PROTECTION ZONE IN PLACE ON WARREN FARM
It's a race against time to save the precious Warren Farm Skylarks' eggs and chicks from being accidentally crushed by dogs and human footfall.
The Skylarks are back!
With bated breath, we wondered if the ground-nesting Skylarks would return with the significant increase in people walking on Warren Farm throughout lockdown. Would they still see Warren Farm as a suitable spot to set up home for the summer and rear their chicks? The answer is yes, and Warren Farm is one of only 3 breeding sites in the whole of London!
But they urgently need our help!
“With the meadow mowed earlier this year to support Biodiversity gain, we lost a lot of the taller grasses that naturally deterred people from walking into the breeding areas. What we urgently need is more rain to allow vegetation to regrow, but that will take a little time. This is a critical moment for the Skylarks as it is currently their nesting season and their worldwide population is decreasing; without urgent intervention, we could loose the beautiful Skylarks from Warren Farm if we don’t act soon.”
Amidst concerns from many of our members that the safety of the ground nesting Skylarks was not being addressed. We took to the meadow and conducted a week long on site survey of visitors to Warren Farm and surprisingly 65% of the visitors to Warren Farm were not even aware of the ground nesting Chicks, and had not seen the signs.
In one hour alone, Hanwell Nature Volunteers observed 3 separate incidents of 9 people with 4 dogs, march right through the central nesting areas as a short cut across the meadow. When approached they were thankful for the leaflet, and information, and were genuinely completely unaware. So while we made some new friends, which was lovely, it is clear that our Skylark remain at risk.
SO OUR VOLUNTEERS PUT THEIR HEADS TOGETHER & BRAINSTORMED IDEAS.
- First we needed expert advice, so we consulted with the highly knowledgeable Richmond Royal Park Rangers (currently protecting their resident Skylarks) and the RSPB, to talk through our Ideas and listen to their experienced suggestions.
- We shared details of the eco products we were going to use, and a plan of the location.
- We discussed the threat from Raptors and other predatory birds, potentially perching on the posts, but as the intended post were very thin, it was felt they would not be used when the existing fencing and posts surrounding Warren Farm, which being much higher would more likely be preferred, giving a much better viewpoint.
- Advice received was to keep the posts low, at knee height, and on the outskirts of the nesting areas, to prevent magpies, and crows using them to gain a vantage point to locate the ground nesting chicks.
- We followed that advice and kept the thin roped areas to the outside path far away from ground nesting chicks. Close to the mown paths to allow for them to be mowed easily without causing an obstruction.
- Until the site is given Nature Reserve designation, the site is not currently being managed for Nature Conservation, and Ealing Council do not manage the land as a nature reserve and sadly does not take into account the protection of our Red listed Skylarks. They do however, mow paths to allow for fire breaks as a precautionary step, which I am sure we are all grateful for.
Armed with the valuable advice and experienced knowledge of the Royal Park Rangers, we followed their advice and :-
- We raised the money through a campaign and peoples generous donations to purchase the supplies.
- We got out there with some amazing Volunteers who gave up their Saturday and implemented PHASE 1 of a new Skylark Protection Zone.
- We show cased an idea of how we could protect the Skylarks with our eco friendly, bio degradable, sustainable Jute rope as trial run on Warren Farm.
- We put up some lovely bunting around the trees to create a welcoming spot for picnics, in a hope to inspire people to sit there rather than in the middle of ground nesting areas.
- We took photos of our work, and shared those in a zoom meeting with the Royal Park Rangers to double check we were doing everything in line with their advice.
- Volunteers monitored the site for a few hours to check the movements of birds on the site.
- We asked users for their feedback, and the common consensus was, they felt it helped to make clear the message, “please keep to the outside paths”.
A Big thank you to Richmond Royal Park Rangers & the RSPB for their time and valuable advice.
Warren Farm is one of only 3 remaining breeding sites in London.
Skylarks are distinguishable by a spectacular song-flight, during which the bird rises almost vertically with rapid wing-beats, hovering for several minutes and then parachuting down. Song-flights of up to one hour have been recorded, and the birds can reach 1,000 feet high before descending.
A recent warning in the Evening Standard.
WILL YOU HELP THE SKYLARKS?
WAYS YOU CAN HELP
OBSERVE THE SKYLARK PROTECTION ZONE WITH US
- Please be aware that even the tiniest mound of grass may hold a nest with eggs or chicks that you can’t see!
- Please keep your fury friends on a lead.
- Please don’t throw balls into the long grass for your dogs to fetch as they may trample nests.
- Please avoid taking shortcuts across the meadow, this creates new “walked in” paths that others then follow.
- Please keep picnics either under the trees, or on the shorter mown section in green on map below.
- Please keep to the paths, when flying kites.
- Take the opportunity to reconnect with nature while you’re here- Warren Farm hosts a wide biodiversity rarely seen in London!
- THANK YOU FROM THE SKYLARKS!
- This zone will only be in place for a few months during their nesting season!
BECOME A HANWELL NATURE VOLUNTEER
BY COMING UP TO WARREN FARM
Join us in handing out leaflets on Warren Farm
Hanwell Nature volunteers have began a friendly education drive and can be seen daily handing out leaflets to alert visitors of the ground nests soon to be filled with eggs/ tiny chicks. (see our new leaflet below)
It is our mission to support, protect, and nurture the environment and wildlife on Warren Farm by inspiring users to share the space with Wildlife.
Join us, in supporting a Skylark Protection Zone?
If you have an hour a week to support the Skylarks, please get in touch, and join us up in nature on Warren Farm. All Volunteers welcomed with open wings!
BECOME A HANWELL NATURE VOLUNTEER
FROM YOUR DESK
HELP SUPPORT OUR WORK
We would love it if you would LIKE – and follow our new facebook page, where you can hear about our activities and initiatives for nature on Warren Farm. While your there why not share the page with others.
SHARE OUR LINKS
5. VISIT WARREN FARM ON A GUIDED TOUR
JOIN A SKYLARK SPOTTING GROUP – If you’d like to find out more or come Skylark spotting with one of our team drop us a line. (Social distance rules apply)
Richmond Royal Park is protecting Skylarks.
Simon Richards, Park Manager, Richmond Park, said: “Richmond Park has been busier than we have ever seen it before – with recent visitor numbers greater than a ‘normal’ Spring Bank Holiday weekend. We welcome everyone to enjoy the natural environment, however increased footfall and disturbance to the environment can have a detrimental impact on wildlife.
“Skylark nest in the acid grassland of the park and their nests can be located in areas just off the paths. These birds are in decline nationally and the nests can be destroyed if trodden on by accident or disturbed by dogs. We conserve areas for skylark and count them. There were a total of only 18 pairs observed attempting to breed in the park in 2020 – and no skylark managed to establish territories in one of the previously populated areas of the park.
Apart from Warren Farm the other 2 sites are Royal Parks, Richmond and Bushey Parks. For many years, The Royal Parks has asked people to avoid harming the nests by keeping dogs on short leads on paths within skylark breeding territories. The perimeter of these areas is marked by signs. in both parks.
But greater visitor numbers walking off paths and dogs not on leads is putting this species at risk.
From everyone at Hanwell Nature have a happy Earth Day today.
IN CASE YOU HADN'T HEARD - WE WON THE COURT CASE.
When Ealing Council and QRP chose not to defend the legal case - the development had to be abandoned.
A BIG THANK YOU TO EVERYONE THAT DONATED TO THE LEGAL FUND
No, a massive thank you to everyone that donated to the legal fund, to help save Warren Farm. Everyone one of you share in that success. It ended the 8 year battle to keep the land for the community and for nature. Had the legal battle not succeeded we would now be fenced out of the land, in the middle of a year long “landfill” importation scheme destroying the precious habitat of wildlife and nature on the site.
EVERYONE said it was a done deal, that nothing could be done to save the land for the community and nature. But they were wrong! Thank you for believing in us, your support kept us going.
KIND HUMANS ROCK!
How the battle for Warren Farm was won.
We will be covering the whole legal story in an upcoming blog, join our mailing list to be alerted when it is posted.
In conjunction with a legal commentator, we will be covering the long history of the battle to reclaim the land from the unpopular and misguided plan to give Warren Farm away to QPR for 200 years for no rental income. We will be highlighting the many people who helped support the campaign and can finally explain the details of the legal battle that put pressure on QPR and Ealing to withdraw from the legal case and their plans to develop the 65 acres meadow on Warren Farm.