Category Archives: Wildlife

The Urban Hedgerow

The Palace Road Estate gardening group bring you:

The Palace Road Estate is very green, with lots of grass and trees, but there is limited habitat for wildlife, with little food and shelter for birds and invertebrates. We also have one of the busiest roads in south London running along one boundary of our estate – the south circular – with its noise and pollution. To help address these problems, the gardening group is planning to plant a hedge between the estate and the south circular, running along part of the existing fence.

The trees for our hedge will be supplied by the Woodland Trust, free of charge. In November, we expect to receive 420 saplings of a variety of species: hawthorn, dogwood, wild cherry, silver birch, rowan, hazel. These are native trees that will provide food and shelter for local wildlife. The leaves and berries will provide a colourful display all year.

The gardening group had planned to hold a mass planting day, to which the whole community would be invited. However, given the current pandemic-related restrictions, this will not be possible. Planting will take place gradually, with no more than six people involved at any time. If you would like to join in, get in touch with the gardening group at gardening@prera.org.uk.

Nature blog: common frog

Did you know that we have common frogs living on Palace Road Estate? We might expect them to be living in ponds. That’s where they breed during spring. However, they spend much of the rest of the year living and feeding in places like gardens, meadows and woodland.

A common frog (Rana temporaria) photographed in a garden on Coburg Crescent

Common frogs are carnivores, meaning that they feed on other animals. They eat things like flies, worms, snails and slugs. These types of animals are known as invertebrates (animals without a backbone) or mini-beasts. There are plenty of mini-beasts living in the gardens and grounds of Palace Road Estate.

This common frog has been spending time in an Ophiopogon plant in a garden in Coburg Crescent. It’s well hidden there from predators like cats.

Where do you think it will go to breed? One of the ponds in Palace Road Nature Garden, perhaps?

You can read more about common frogs on the Froglife and the Wildlife Trusts websites.

Nature blog: mistle thrush

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.

Mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus) outside Chalner House

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 upright stance of the mistle thrush
Mistle thrush foraging for worms outside Chalner House

You can read more about the mistle thrush on the British Trust for Ornithology, The Wildlife Trusts, the Woodland Trust and RSPB websites.

Nature blog: lesser celandine

There is an abundance of wildflowers on Palace Road Estate at the moment, bringing scenes of colour and nature to our urban setting. This post is about the lesser celandine.

A carpet of lesser celandine (Ficaria verna), outside Ducavel House

The lesser celandine is a member of the buttercup family. Its leaves are glossy, dark-green and heart-shaped with long stalks. Its flowers are shiny and yellow with eight to twelve petals.

Wordsworth was a fan of the lesser celandine and wrote three poems about them: The Small Celandine, To the Same Flower and To the Small Celandine.

You can read more about the lesser celandine on the Woodland Trust website.

Nature blog: fruit blossom

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: contact@prera.org.uk).

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.

Nature blog: the elegant Nuthatch

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.

Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
Image source: http://www.gardenbirdwatching.com/nuthatch.html (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

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!

You can learn more about Nuthatches on The Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and British Trust for Ornithology websites.

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: contact@prera.org.uk).

Nature blog: Dark-edged bee-fly

This is the first of a series of posts about the nature around us on Palace Road Estate. Earlier this week, this Dark-edged bee-fly was spotted ‘sunbathing’ in the new apple orchard on the estate.

These insects look a bit like bumblebees but they are actually flies. They have a long mouthpart (proboscis) which they use to drink nectar from flowers.

You can read more about these insects on The Wildlife Trusts or Buglife websites.

We’re interested in your ideas for future posts. Have you spotted any interesting nature around Palace Road Estate? Do tell us about it by emailing us at contact@prera.org.uk.

Dark-edged bee-fly (Bombylius major)

Feathery residents

The estate’s resident woodpeckers have been out and about again in the last few days. Their characteristic pecking has been heard echoing between the buildings – see this video, recorded yesterday.

Woodpeckers on oak tree
Greater-spotted woodpeckers on one of our oaks

Wildlife

With so many trees and shrubs, as well as private gardens, our estate is home to a variety of wildlife. Squirrels are ever-present, as are a variety of birds – blue-tits, blackbirds, crows, starlings, pigeons and jays. More unusual species of birds are occasionally spotted, including wrens and greater-spotted woodpeckers. Have you seen any unusual wildlife? Let us know if you have. If you can take a photo, all the better – we can publish the photo on this website.Squirrel