Dragonflies & trams at Wandle Park

It was a lovely sunny day, (in the middle of March?) when a visit was made to Wandle Park

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Wandle Park in the vicinity of Croydon Town Centre

The park is easily accessible being only a five-minute tram journey from Central Croydon

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Wandle Park Tram Stop with Baratt’s housing development in the background

A number of helpful noticeboards give a  detailed history of Wandle Park.

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Wandle Park was officially opened 10 May 1890 when a crowd of 30,000 attended.

Unfortunately the park fell into disrepair in the seventies but it was successfully refurbished in 2012 and the river wandle restored to the surface, as detailed in other  restoration blogs

A large number of activities are now organised in the park: a skateboard park, adventure playground, trim trail and a bandstand. In April there will be bat watching, walking football and kite making. We could not agree with the curious poster that appeared in wandle park with the phrase”only the lonely”. The Friends of Wandle Park might disagree so using an image editing program I amended the message solely on my computer and of course, no defacing of the original has taken place.

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please note a doctored image, the original poster  with “only the lonely” is intact at wandle park 

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Through the bandstand – the invisible man was playing at the time!

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Large steps required to navigate this trail

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The pond is a haven for dragonflies in the summer

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Dragonflies rest with their wings open. Damselflies rest with their wings closed and their front and back wings are the same size.

If you can’t wait until the summer then I have a photograph of a dragonfly.

At the other end of the park you can see the newest and tallest occupied building in Croydon the “Saffron Square”, decorated in the colours of the Saffron Crocus. Saffron being the shades of purple color of a new flower dedicated to Croydon. The name Croydon derives from the word crocus.

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In the background Saffron Square dwarfing the nearby Delta Point, itself being converted into flats and the largest office conversion of its kind in the UK.

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Entrance of river wandle to wandle park

Before the river wandle emerges into wandle park it is still culverted through Croydon. One of the sources of the wandle runs parallel to the Roman Road flyover, underneath the Croydon flyover and along SouthBridge road. It is suspected that the source originates nearby in the far corner of a playing field  in the Whitgift School. I should stress that the exact route is speculative and it is currently being investigated by the Wandle Trust ably assisted by some well-trained volunteers.

On exiting the park via a footbridge towards waddon road, I took some photographs to show the close proximity of the tram line to the park.

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Photo taken from pedestrian bridge toward Croydon showing the tram bridge over the railway line.

 

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Addington Hills Chainsaw Massacre

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the picture of utter devastation that greeted visitors to lower, northern section of Addington Hills recently. Where have all the trees gone?

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No more secret passageways through the woods, no unofficial footpaths remain that have been carved by numerous visitors through the years. It feels a lot less secluded. You now see down to the oaks road that runs parallel to the wood.

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view of trees yet to be culled

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Turn 180 degrees on same spot

Is there any justification for the carnage? Well actually yes there is. The ancient oak trees were being squeezed not by triffids but by fast growing birch, rowan and holly as the notice from the Council below explains. It had been retrieved from a muddy bank  blown there by recent storms Doris and Ewan.

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It will be interesting to see if the oak pollard restoration extends as far as the other end where the wood meets the tram tracks. Of course, you will be kept posted of any further developments.

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I can see the wood now the rain has gone. For how much longer will this view remain?

 

 

The circus off Wandle Park

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Wandle Park with Saffron tower in background

The restoration of the wandle within Wandle Park was part of the agreement between Croydon council and Barratt developments. The house builder would restore the wandle above ground and the boating lake in return for building on adjacent vacant land . For further information and pictures of wandle park see my earlier blog.

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restored pond

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Wandle park exit towards new housing development

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wandle beyond Wandle Park

In addition the wandle that run through the new housing would be exposed from its existing covered culvert. The center circle of flats around this section is known as “the circus”.

 

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wandle flowing through new housing

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The wandle is retained within a culvert as seen in the pictures and flows through the new housing , beyond which it again disappears underground before emerging at Waddon Ponds.

 

 

 

Bogged down in Lloyd Park

Beyond the swings and even further than the far 9th hole on the disc golf course, lies a field in Lloyd Park that is  known only to dog walkers and small group of local residents. Befitting its secret  location it can only be accessed through a hole in the hedge, a legitimate hole I might add and not one created by errant youths.

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secret access

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Ignore the no trespass signs this refers to the old school playing fields of the former John Ruskin school long since closed and re-engineered  as a sixth form college  a mile up the road.

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With the heavy rains of last two months still in the memory large puddles are in evidence in the other higher parts of the park. A natural water jump for the parkrun competitors an event that takes place every saturday morning,  although the proliferation of puddles in close proximity  has more in common with a game of hopscotch than a fun run. A spokesperson for parkrun was unavailable for comment.

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A large puddle?- No a natural pond

After a longish walk and remarkably clean trousers  the new Lloyd park cafe was a welcome retreat with cofees all round.

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the rooks are static in the top branches waiting …..

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……..they are off to get the latest installment of my blog!

 

You Dirty Rats

Down by the Waddon pond something lurks with a rather long tail. Yes, it’s a dirty rat helping himself to the grain feed left by well-meaning members of the public for the swans and ducks.

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A rat on the bank

It was difficult to photograph a rat as they never sit still as I can testify from the intrepid smaller house mouse that is currently occupying my property. I took many  unusable photographs before the rat got used to my presence and settled down to feed.

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Foraging for food

Later he was joined by a second rat, they never mentioned two of them in “toad of toad hall” or “wind in the willows”. A lady passed by curious that I was standing still and photographing what looked like from her angle an ordinary patch of grass bank. As she came closer she remarked the rats were rather big and furry and gave out a hearty laugh.

 

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deux rats

Later I was photographing the swans who came out from the pond to say hello. A couple of labrador dogs were curious about my camera and stood beside me quietly watching the swans.  The peace did not last long , the swans noticed the dogs and the  swans started hissing and reared up to their full height raising their feathers in a show of defiance. Their year old cygnets were behind them  and the adult swans came extremely close affording me some great shots. Shame that by now the light was fading, but at least you get a good impression of the scene.

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Swan alert

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Swan warning

The parkkeeper came over as it was near closing time and told me the waddon pond swans are very tame. He then politely asked me to leave as he was locking the gates. No one has said that to me since I was a young boy down the very same park. Once I was seven years old ..

 

Ice ponds and conservation

With the temperature plummeting recently , it is not surprising that the ponds at heathfield are frozen. The ducks may have problems accessing their house unless they get their skates on! In fact the house was abandoned after the summer so no harm done to their young.

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Frozen duck house

Similarly the pond at Bramley bank , situated just below heathfield is also frozen. It is the largest natural woodland pond in Croydon. The resident heron was not at home having to fly further afield for food.

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Pond at Bramley Bank

Bramley Bank is managed by the Wildlife Trust and assisted by their teams of volunteers, family and friends they  were out coppicing, clearing the woodland path of encroaching trees and overhanging branches. They have also been clearing the middle of the wood to allow more natural light to reach the wood floor enabling future fauna and flora to flourish in the spring.

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coppicing by the Woodland Trust

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On my return to Heathfield I noticed that the herdwick sheep, Sam and Ben were out in the orchard despite the weather. Herdwick sheep hail from Cumbria so are used to harsher winters. Can you tell who was cheeky enough to stick his nose through the gated bars at the entrance? No it wasn’t me!

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Mystery sheep

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yes it is Sam

A week is a long time in the park

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a snowy coombe wood

What a difference a week makes regarding the weather, last Friday snow fell on Coombe Wood Garden. Today at waddon ponds the sun shone and the water was crystal clear.

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The swans were very inquisitive as we stood on the viewing platform. While they may appear contented, the cold snap has caused a dearth of insects and natural algae that the swans feed on.

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The adult swan was even prepared to leave the safety of the water and encroach onto the bank in case we had food to offer.

You should be careful about feeding bread to swans as mouldy bread can kill them and any processed bread is unhealthy. The council parks recommend whole wheat grain in its natural state, not processed, brown rice and  lentils.

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Heron and friend

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a pair of herons

Good news to start the new year, the heron is no longer on his own again. He was spotted high up in the tree with a new partner. They were clearly enjoying the most of the twilight sun before the usual evening chorus of songbirds began.

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One bird that prefers to whistle instead of singing is the aptly named whistling duck a migrant bird to these shores. He was strutting around outside the pond showing off his unusual plumage.

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The duck is also known as “the Egyptian duck “, and hails from Africa where they were considered to be sacred. Certainly a treasure to find him at Waddon Ponds.

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Whistling Duck: what is his favourite tune?  Suggestions please in the comments.

 

How will he and the other birds will manage in the predicted snow over the next few days? I will keep you informed.

Spot the Halloween Heron

An unusually mild and sunny day yesterday for Halloween. The seagulls were sunning themselves on the posts in the middle of Waddon ponds that were meant for the kingfishers! But can you spot the heron amongst the gulls? Scroll down to the end of this blog to find the answer.

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spot the heron?

The mice were also out on the platform deck sunning themselves while looking for scraps of bread that had been thrown for the ducks in the pond, but had fallen short of their target.

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mouse and bread

The swans were taking their young out on the water, although by now they look almost like adult birds. If a baby swan is called a cygnet, what is a not quite adult swan called? Why in the song did the ugly duckling turn into a swan when ducklings are not baby swans?

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when we were young

Regardless, I have photographed the cygnets growing up into nearly there swans and its fascinating to see them mature so beautifully as i’m sure you will agree.

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todays older cygnets rush to get their copy of this blog!

 

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where did they go?

Were you right, did you spot the heron among the seagulls?

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heron found!

If so try this harder one, the heron flew off to his house in the trees. Can you find him/her?

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heron in the tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heathfield Open Day

The open day took place on Sunday under cloudy skies but this did not deter the crowds enthusiasm for the orchard tour that was engagingly conducted by Mick a longstanding volunteer at the Croydon Ecology Centre.

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Lane’s Prince Albert

He explained that the land had laid derelict for 25 years before being leased free by the council to the volunteers in 1998. It took 2 years to clear the land and 100 fruit trees , pears,plums and apples all pre 1900 varieties  were planted. We are able to sample a number of  apple varieties including Blenheim Orange, American Mother and Lane’s Prince Albert.

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Blenheim Orange

Two Herdwick Sheep , Sam 5 years  and Ben 3, also live at they end of the orchard in pens.The sheep originate from the mountains of Cumbria and were saved from extinction by a certain Beatrix Potter. One chap piped up “Was that Harry Potter’s Mum?”. A breeding programme was set up by Beatrix and now the wool is popular for use in eco-friendly building insulation.

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ripening grapes

In the recent Croydon Council Development Plan the Ecology Centre  was formally recognised as a site of nature conservation.

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another close up of the royal variety show

The house was open for Cream Teas and cake in the pantry , plants were on sale and the Croydon Astronomical Society were in attendance.