The mistle thrush is a large songbird found in woodland, parks and gardens. One of these birds can often be seen in the oak tree or on the ground between Chalner House and Coburg Crescent. Perhaps it has a nest nearby.
The mistle thrush has greyish-brown upper parts, a long tail and a white belly with dark brown spots. It is larger and paler than the similar song thrush.
The mistle thrush sings a ‘fluty’ song which is usually delivered from a high perch and it gives a rattling call in flight. On the ground, the mistle thrush often has an upright stance that further emphasises its size.
The first blossom is appearing on the new apple trees which were planted on the estate in February. This blossom, together with a range of wildflowers (which we’ll cover in a future post), brings scenes of colour and nature to our urban environment.
As more blossom emerges over the coming days and weeks, it will attract a range of insects. We’ve already seen a dark-edged bee-fly visiting the new trees. If you see any other interesting insects, do let us know so that we can write about them in future posts (email: email@example.com).
Some of the mature pear trees on the estate are already covered in blossom.
Apples and pears are both members of the Rose family of flowering plants (Rosaceae). Other members of the Rose family which are food crops include almonds, cherries, raspberries and strawberries.
With its trees, shrubs and gardens, our estate is home to a variety of wildlife. It was sad to lose so many mature trees earlier this month. However, we can still appreciate the ones that are left and the wildlife that visits and lives in them. This post is about an elegant bird – the Nuthatch.
The Nuthatch has distinctive colourings: it is blue-grey on top
and rust-coloured below and it has a black stripe running across its eye to the
back of its head.
Its name comes from its habit of wedging nuts or seeds in crevices in the bark and hammering them open with its bill.
Nuthatches have been spotted on several occasions, including this
week, on the oak tree outside Chalner House. Perhaps you’ve seen them on other
trees on the estate too?
Watch out for the Nuthatch’s unusual way of moving down trunks:
it’s the only British bird species which goes down headfirst!
This post is part of an ongoing series about nature and wildlife on Palace Road Estate. Do get in touch if you’ve spotted any other interesting birds, or other types of wildlife, which we could cover in future posts (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Residents and Open Orchard had an enjoyable day planting apple trees on Palace Road Estate last month. Many thanks to everyone who came along, including a number of keen young helpers. Thanks too to Thomas and Robert from Open Orchard who shared their expertise and tools.
We planted a mini-orchard in the grass area between Ponton House and Coburg Crescent. We also planted trees on Bushell Close, on Palace Road outside Ponton House, and on Coburg Crescent outside Despard House.
The apple trees are a range of different varieties, with some great names: Nuvar Freckles, Nuvar Golden Hills, Sunset, Kidd’s Orange Red, Laxton’s Superb, Self-Fertile Cox, Sweet Society and Bountiful.
The different varieties will produce apples with different delicious flavours, which will be ready to pick at different times. We will need to be patient though as it will be a couple of years before there is fruit which we can pick to eat.
PRERA purchased the trees from Keepers Nursery and you can read more about the different varieties on their website.
Many thanks to the following people and organisations who helped to make the planting day a success:
Gerry, the Friends Group Coordinator for Palace Road Nature Garden, for lending us a wheelbarrow and trolley and donating woodchip
Lambeth Landscapes / Lambeth Council for donating wooden stakes
Keepers Nursery for their advice about selecting trees and about how to store them before planting.
During the summer, the apple trees will need plenty of water. If you would like to help with watering, do get in touch if you haven’t already done so (email email@example.com). Watering cans can be provided.
Yesterday, newsletters were delivered to residents by Farrans, the contractor leading the building of the new resource centre on Coburg Crescent. These newsletters introduced Farrans and warned residents that some trees next to the current hoarding would be felled to make way for the building work. That same day those trees were felled.
The trees that were felled were a mixture of ash, lime and Norway maple. They were assessed during a tree survey in 2017 and most were considered to be of ‘moderate quality’.
The tree survey also highlighted that there is potential for damage to other trees in the area, in particular to the Norway maple that lies close to the bin store. This has roots that extend into the building site. The Tree Protection Plan requires that fencing is erected to protect this tree before any other work commences. The tree survey also recommends that the grass verge to the north-west of the site is protected with fencing.
PRERA and Open Orchard are working together to plant more fruit trees on Palace Road Estate. Do come and join in with the planting. See the poster below for further details.
In time, the trees will provide residents with a source of healthy, local, fresh produce. We’ll be planting a range of varieties of apple, many of which you’re unlikely to find in local supermarkets.
If you’re not able to make it to this planting event but you’d like to help look after the new trees, do get in touch (email firstname.lastname@example.org). The trees are going to need plenty of water through the spring and summer. In due course they will also need some pruning. Training can be arranged.
Would you be interested in getting involved in other food growing and gardening projects on the estate? If so, do get in touch (email email@example.com). As a community organisation, PRERA can apply for funding and other resources for such projects.
Many thanks to the Open Orchard Project who visited the estate last week to help care for our young fruit trees. They will be back again on Saturday 22nd February to help plant more fruit trees on the estate. Do join us for this community planting event.
A little bit of
Where Palace Road Estate is now, there used to be large
detached houses with their own gardens. Some of the trees on the estate, including
pear, plum and cherry trees are from these former gardens. Over the years, the fruit
trees have become rather old and tall and the fruit is difficult to reach.
Caring for our young
In early 2014, volunteers worked with Open Orchard to plant 10 new fruit trees across the estate. Robert and Thomas from Open Orchard visited the estate last week (and back in November) to help care for these young fruit trees.
Last week, they worked with a couple of residents to:
prune the trees to improve their shape and
encourage healthy growth
remove grass from around the trees to reduce
competition for water and nutrients
add leaves to suppress weeds and help to enrich
re-secure the protective cages
move a young cherry tree which was in the way of
the children’s slide to a better location nearby.
Planting more fruit
trees and getting involved
Open Orchard and PRERA are working together to plant more
fruit trees on the estate. Do join us on
Saturday 22nd February 2020 to help with the planting. More details about
the event will be available shortly on this blog and on posters on the estate
By planting fruit trees on the estate, and looking after
them, we’ll have a source of locally grown fresh fruit for many years to come. Trees
also bring a range of environmental benefits – we’ll cover these in a future
After the trees have been planted, the main thing
we’ll need to do is to keep them well watered. In due course, the trees will
also need the type of care outlined above. If you’re interested in helping to look
after the fruit trees on the estate, do let us know. Training can be arranged.
Many thanks to Robert and Thomas from the Open Orchard Project who kindly dropped by the estate this morning to care for some of our young fruit trees. They pruned the trees to improve their shape and to encourage healthy growth, they topped up the soil and they re-secured the protective cages.
Robert and Thomas are keen to collaborate with residents to come up with an ongoing maintenance programme for our young fruit trees. This will help to ensure that the trees are strong and healthy. If you would like to be involved with this, do get in touch with PRERA.
On Thursday evening Rob (Depurty Contracts Representative) went to a meeting on the St. Martin’s Estate (just over the south circular road). It was organised by their TRA with the aim of improving the appearance of the estate by both increasing the amount of greenery and reducing the incidence of dumping. The evening started with a walk around the estate and finished with a meeting in one of their four community halls – the scout hut.
As well as residents, TRA representatives, a councillor (Mary Atkins) and representatives from the housing association, there were people from Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses, Father Nature, the Open Orchard Project and New Leaf Education Gardens. These four organisations had been invited onto the estate in order to generate ideas, offer expertise and give guidance on costs. The people from these organisations were bursting with great ideas from ways to transform neglected areas by introducing greenery and obstructing dumping:
Scented climbers on bin stores – ‘fragrant fences’
Dropping trees into tree-planting holes
Planters on railings
Chicken wire and climbers to block stairwell dumping zones
Turning a large dead tree into a totem pole/sculpture
Researching local history (the example of Baytree Close was given – where some of the country’s best bay leaves used to be grown)
St. Martin’s are having a launch party on 6th August for something that they are calling ‘St. Martin’s Together’. At this event they will be consulting the residents about what the residents would like to do. The organisations listed above are going to have a stall throughout the event presenting their ideas and photos of their previous projects. The TRA will have a map onto which residents can stick post-it notes with their ideas.
The organisations were also asked to come up with costings for some project ideas, so that the TRA could then look into getting funding. Possible funding sources included Tesco (Bags of Fun), the National Lottery (Awards for All) and the London Mayor’s pocket parks scheme. It was noted that clearing up fly-tipping costs the estate £50k per year, so, if dumping was reduced, significant cost savings could be made. It was recognised that now isn’t the ideal time to be planting many plants, particularly trees, so the actual planting is planned to begin from this winter.
Rob found the evening inspiring and comments that the meeting looked like a very promising start to a project that could improve the environment of the St. Martin’s Estate and something that we could emulate in the future.