The Dulwich Society Journal for Summer 2018.
Annual General Meetings are not usually far up the list of most people’s unmissable events but the attendance at the Dulwich Society’s 55th annual AGM was high and the newly refurbished meeting room at the Crown & Greyhound in the Village was packed. Although the business went smoothly and there were a number of points of interest raised from the floor, the highlight for many of those attending was undoubtedly the short illustrated talk by Edwin Malins of the London Wildlife Trust who spoke about the Great North Wood Project.
For the uninitiated, the Great North Wood Project is a four-year long exercise based on a one year pilot scheme carried out by the LWT. The Project has received a £700,000 funding from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The purpose of the project is to raise awareness of the existence of stretches of important woodlands, fragments of the ancient forest which once stretched from Deptford to Croydon and of which Dulwich and Sydenham Hill woods form the largest remaining part. Other areas which are also included in the project are One Tree Hill, Biggin Wood (Norwood), Grangewood Park and Streatham Common. This will be done through events in each of the areas, designed for both children and adults. The interest thus raised will, it is anticipated, deliver bands of volunteers to carry out the work of removing brambles, and invasive species like Cherry Laurel and False Acacias, improve paths and to open up some areas through thinning of the foliage to allow more light to penetrate. Edwin demonstrated in his talk the success of the volunteer scheme and illustrated the work being done with pictures of teams of volunteers working at each of the sites.
The area covered by the Great North Wood Project stretches over five London boroughs and compliments the scheme of the Mayor of London who has committed £9m to a Green City Fund to plant trees and improve green spaces in every neighbourhood in order to make London a National Park City.
The Dulwich Society was instrumental in assisting the application through match funding and is listed, along with the Mayor of London, Heritage Lottery Fund, Veolia and the Dulwich Estate as one of the Great North Wood Project sponsors. The Society can also take great credit for raising public awareness to the importance of the wood through its research and articles on its history which have been key factors in making its heritage better known. Additionally, it was the Society which led the vigorous campaign to stop parts of Sydenham Hill Wood being covered with housing.
To enlist as a volunteer in the project, contact the London Wildlife Trust, Centre for Wildlife Gardening, 28 Marsden Road, SE15 4EE
On page 31 of this Journal, Daniel Greenwood gives a detailed account of the Natural History of One Tree Hill one of areas Edwin talked about in the presentation.
The Estate has promised a more collaborative and responsive tone in its dealings with local ‘stakeholders’, and there has been some evidence that this is happening. The new signs on their development projects which say ‘Investing in Dulwich, improving commercial and residential property as part of our ongoing commitment to the area’ are a positive, as was the backing for last year’s Dulwich Village Christmas shopping event and the offer of financial assistance for a summer event later this year - all good, but the thing that all residents really want is to have the vacant shops let. The Society has been told several times by the Estate that it has secured tenants for Nos 86 and 88 Dulwich Village but it will not confirm who they are or when they are likely to start trading - the prospective tenants’ solicitors are apparently responsible for the delays. In the Croxted Road/Park Hall Road shops in West Dulwich three of the units have unfortunately closed in the last three months - for different reasons. The Estate assure us that they also have interest there, including a potential restaurant for the former Lloyds Bank but, in the current retail environment, it is a tenant’s market, and it seems that potential occupiers are in no rush to move forward - no doubt pending negotiation on rental levels. In retrospect, the substantial increases that the Estate secured last year in the Village may not have been such a good idea.
Another pressing problem locally - that may now have been resolved, was the large amount of credit card fraud in Dulwich over the last 9 months - over 100 cases at the last count. The good news is that a worker in the Alleyn Park sorting office has been arrested - but it took a lot of effort on the part of two concerned and dedicated Dulwich Society members, to make the Police and Royal Mail appreciate what was happening. The Society helped in publicising what was going on and local MP Helen Hayes was active in putting pressure on Royal Mail.
Members will have noticed that the Society has been more vigorous on local licensing issues over the last few months and that we also objected to both the planned music festivals in Brockwell Park and Peckham Rye Park - where Lambeth and Southwark councils had failed to consult as widely as they should have on events that would have a major impact on both parks. Patsy Bramble, a solicitor, has now joined our Executive Committee, and she has enabled the Society to be far more proactive in this area. We have also welcomed Sir David Beamish as the new Chair of the Trees Committee.
As part of the recent Dulwich Festival, the Society’s local history group has installed some more information boards similar to the one on the Burial ground railings. They may be seen in College Road and include the Dulwich Windmill (it used to be where part of Dulwich College now stands), the Millpond, Pond Cottages, and the Tollgate.
Electronic vehicle charging points
The March meeting of the Society’s Traffic & Transport group had a presentation from Source London, the London-wide installer of vehicle charging point, on its plans for Dulwich. There is currently planning consent for charging points in Dulwich Wood Avenue, Crescent Wood Rd, Hunts Slip Rd, Pickwick Rd, Eastlands Crescent, Half Moon Lane, Ruskin Walk, Elmwood Rd, Ashbourne Grove, Underhill Rd, and Cyrena Rd. There are no confirmed dates for the installation, however, as Southwark has yet to apply for the necessary Traffic Management Orders (TMOs) and may be looking at alternatives such as putting charging points in lamp posts.
The long term aim of course is to facilitate the ownership of electric cars; the argument being that unless these points are introduced in a larger numbers people will not buy electric cars as they can’t run them. The counter argument is that there are very few electric cars at the moment and the points reduce parking space for residents - it’s the chicken and the egg situation.
There are several electric car owners in Dulwich - though they all appear to have off street parking and can thus charge their cars via their house’s electrical power. The Society is interested to know both how many members actually have electric cars and how many would buy one if more charging points were available. Please respond to
New route for Foundation school coaches
The Council have consulted on the planned changes to the College Road/Dulwich Common junction to facilitate the introduction of the revised route through Dulwich Village for the Foundation Schools Coach Service. Work should start in the summer holiday and the amended layout will allow coaches to turn left into College Road. They will stop at the first bus stop to drop boys for the College and then continue north through the Village turning right into East Dulwich Grove. After dropping for JAGs, they will then turn right into Townley Road to stop for Alleyns - and then drive to Lordship Lane.
The benefit of the new route is that coaches will no longer come down Calton Avenue and there should be fewer coaches parked in Townley Road or Gallery Road - subject to the planned temporary coach park in the Grove Tavern car park being operational.
Brockwell Park event
The newly formed Society licensing committee led by Patsy Bramble has been doing excellent work to query both Lambeth and Southwark Councils decisions to promote large scale events in local parks without proper consultation or regard for the potential impact on other park users’ enjoyment or the trees and wildlife.
Dulwich Estate not to appeal on Almshouse decision
The Estate has now confirmed that it will not be appealing against Southwark’s rejection of the planning application for the Judith Kerr School playground site. For the full press release. see www.dulwichsociety.com.
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Jeremy Prescott writes:
Dulwich Gardens open for Charity - in full swing
There are Dulwich gardens open for charity most weekends in June and in the first half of July, most with teas and many with plant sales as well. Full details are in the brochure which was sent to members with the Spring Journal and which is also available in local garden centres, and a list is on the Dulwich Society website. Visiting them makes for a pleasant afternoon.
Visit to the Horniman Museum gardens, 11am on Thursday 5th July
The gardens at the Horniman Museum run to 16 acres, with stunning views across London. The imaginative display gardens are closely linked to the Museum’s collections and showcase medicinal plants and plants with uses as diverse as building materials, textiles and musical instruments. The Arts & Crafts-style Sunken Garden has spectacular colour-coordinated displays of dye plants, and a new Grassland Garden designed by Professor James Hitchmough (London Olympic Park) will be opening in June to highlight threatened North American Prairie and South African landscapes.
Our visit will be led by Wesley Shaw, Head of Horticulture at the Horniman, and will last an hour or so. The visit is free and open to all members of the Society but numbers are limited - if you would like to come, please book a ticket through www.eventbrite.co.uk (search Dulwich Society). We will meet at the bandstand.
176, 185, 197, 356 and P4 buses stop outside the Museum on the London Road.
Daniel Greenwood will lead a trees walk in Dulwich Park on Sunday 10th June at 4pm. Meet at the Court Lane Gate. Free to all members and guests.
Dulwich Park is a remnant of the ancient Dulwich Common. Before becoming a park in 1890 it was farmland close to where the River Effra, one of London's most well known lost rivers, flowed. Though the park is nearing 130 years of age, it has trees which are much older.
There are a number of old boundary oak trees which mark former parcels of farmland and common land. We will be looking closely at these trees, talking about their significance to us today as relicts of London's natural and cultural heritage.
Dulwich Park is host to a great variety of trees and we will attempt to identify and discover the stories of as many of the species as we can.
We will miss Daniel Greenwood, who has taken up a new post as manager of the South Downs National Park volunteer service. He is well-qualified for this role, having doubled the number of volunteers for the London Wildlife Trust work at Sydenham Hill Wood from the 500 he had built up between 2012-15 to the 1000 recorded today. These volunteers have helped with the Ambrook project and the on-going Great North Wood project. We will also miss him because he has thrown himself wholeheartedly into being involved in the Dulwich Society, Friends of Dulwich Park, the Peckham Society and others. He has served on the Dulwich Society’s Wildlife committee where his keen observation and great photographic skills have recorded many unusual sightings of flora and fauna in Dulwich Woods. Even as we talked, he removed a bee from the path where I was about to tread on it, and transferred it between his fingers to a welcoming flower bed.
This involvement in local activities possibly stems from the fact that he grew up in Dulwich, went to local schools, had a trial for Dulwich Hamlet FC, skateboarded down Burbage Road and chatted up JAGS girls in Dulwich Park! Surprisingly, his interest after leaving school was not so much in wildlife as in literature. He graduated from Liverpool University with a degree in Creative Writing (his second book of poems is about to be published) and then went on to take a Master’s in Film Studies at Kings. Disillusioned with the prospects in film-making he volunteered to assist the LWT at Sydenham Hill Wood where his interest and curiosity in wildlife, coupled with a desire to work in the open air led to his appointment with the Trust
Although he is heading for Britain’s newest and largest National Park, he retains a keen interest in the future pf Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Woods. With regard to the woods, he is concerned about the need to strike a balance between allowing the flora and fauna to grow and the fact that people want to visit. The impact of as many as 500 visitors to the woods on any Sunday is considerable as people and dogs disturb the wildlife., yet Daniel acknowledges the benefits walking in the woods can bring to the well-being of these visitors.
We wish him well in his new post.
The Language of Leaves
Let’s learn not to speak the language of nations but the language of leaves
of hornbeam, beech and acacia.
We have written nations into the speedwell and plantain of our footways, inflated violets
to match the smiley faces of our waistlines.
I’ll speak the language of leaves because language is formed by the landscape and the landscape is formed by we.
(Daniel Greenwood 2014)
Every year in early Spring there is a spectacular flowering of cherry blossom trees in Winterbrook Road and Stradella Road that brings a touch of Japan to South London. These are the beautiful Yoshino Cherry trees, scientific name Prunus x yedoensis, that is a hybrid cherry between Prunus subhirtella and Prunus speciosa, produced in Japan and native to the Yoshino District in Nara. It is a clone from a single tree and is propagated by grafting. Yoshinos are now exported all over the world and are sometimes known outside Japan as the Tokyo Cherry.
The Yoshino Cherry has been described as one of the most floriferous and beautiful cherry trees, but was unknown in the UK until it arrived in Kew in 1910 from Germany. Even in Japan the Yoshino was unknown until 1868. It was propagated commercially from the 1920s and valued for its distinctive blossom and as a rapid grower. It was found to be particularly attractive to bullfinches which would devour all of the flower buds. Fortunately we don’t see too many bullfinches in London.
The Yoshino is a graceful, early flowering tree with upright, spreading branches, but is hardy and grows well as a street tree. There is a profusion of almond-scented, blush-white flowers tinged with pale pink that emerge in late March and early April in clusters, each with five white or pale pink petals. Bees find the blossom very attractive. The fruit is a small cherry which is bitter to the taste, the red juice stains fingers and clothes very quickly, but small birds love the taste. The leaves are alternate, broad with a serrated margin, often bronze coloured, turning green by summer, and then yellow in the autumn creating a beautiful contrast to the shiny black fruits. This is an elegant and colourful tree for much of the year.
The Yoshino has not been planted very much in the UK until very recently, and not at all as a street tree. The first two Yoshinos that were planted locally were located in Melbourne Grove in East Dulwich in 2008 in front of a small Urban Orchard at the suggestion of Robin Crookshank Hilton with the support of Oliver Stutter, tree officer at Southwark Council. This was a trial because many trees do not survive being planted in streets or grow too large or lift the pavement. There are several popular street trees that are now lifting pavements and have become less popular with tree officers. So far Yoshinos have proved very suitable street trees.
Robin and Oliver were then looking to plant Yoshinos more extensively in a local street. By a happy coincidence a resident of Winterbrook Road, David Langley, had suggested the planting of some Yoshinos in his street, having admired them in blossom abroad. The first of the 30 Yoshinos were planted in Winterbrook Road in 2012. They are planted on both sides of the road, forming an avenue in the best Japanese tradition. These trees are thriving as they mature. In Stradella Road there are now another 15 Yoshinos but so far just planted on one side of the road. It is hoped to plant several Yoshinos on the other side of Stradella Road in the next few months to obtain the same effect as the avenue in Winterbrook
A group of 16 Yoshinos was then planted at the Dog Kennel Hill end of Melbourne Grove and are also growing well. Milo Road is a short road that connects Beauval Road with Lordship Lane with just 10 Yoshinos and no other tree species at all. There is another group of 8 Yoshinos at the top end of Greendale by the side of JAGS and opposite Alleyns, and can be seen from the main road.
It is believed that all of these groups of Yoshinos are the first trees in UK to be planted as street trees in avenues. All of them appear to be in good health, they are not lifting pavements and have required little maintenance to date. There are many species of park trees that are just not suitable for planting as street trees, but the Yoshinos seem to be
These Yoshino avenues in Herne Hill are now being mentioned in tourist guides and are included in guided tree walks. They are now being planted as street trees elsewhere in the country. As the trees mature they are expected to produce more blossom and look even more spectacular.
Robin first saw the Yoshino Cherry Trees in all their glory in Washington DC where millions of people visit every year in early Spring to admire the blossoming of many thousands of Yoshinos. The white and very pale pink blossom creates an effect of white clouds around the Tidal Basin and on to the grounds of the Washington Monument. These were first planted in 1912 when the Mayor of Tokyo made a gift of 3,020 cherry trees, of which 70% were Yoshinos, to celebrate the growing friendship between the United States and Japan. The First Lady Helen Taft and the wife of the Japanese Ambassador planted the first two trees and they are both still standing and flowering today. Further gifts from Japan have added to this marvellous display of blossom in Washington, and have led to Yoshino avenues being planted all over the USA.
The arrival of the Cherry Tree blossoms has been celebrated in Japan for many centuries. The ancient Japanese believed that the cherry trees contained spirits and made offerings to them with rice wine. This grew into the tradition of Hanami which is the custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers that dates back to the Nara period from 710 to 794. By the Heian period from 794 to 1185 this devotion had developed into Sakura which was a more narrow focus on cherry trees, celebrating the blooming of the cherry blossoms from the end of March to early May. Sakura was used to divine that year’s harvest and to announce the rice planting season. Emperor Saga of the Heian period held flower viewing parties with feasts and drinking sake under the blossoming boughs of Sakura trees in the Imperial Court in Kyoto. Poems were written praising the delicate flowers which were regarded as a metaphor for life itself, luminous and beautiful yet fleeting and ephemeral. This custom was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court but soon spread to the samurai society and eventually to the common people as well. At this point large areas were allocated as public parks and were planted with cherry blossom trees so that ordinary people were able to celebrate the festival.
The Yoshino Honey is a beautiful brown colour, has a mild fragrance of cherry, and a sweet-tangy, warm, buttery taste of cherries and almonds. It also has a long list of reputed health benefits. Last year the first two Yoshinos in Melbourne Grove were attracting many bees, so this could become a feature of the other local Yoshinos as they mature. Maybe we should also be planting Yoshinos in our local parks.
Unloved Sunray Gardens?
Until quite recently, Sunray Gardens was one of the smaller jewels in Dulwich’s crown. Today, some feel it is neglected. In the past a Friends of Sunray Gardens group ensured this remarkable open space, originally designed by that great garden designer Humphrey Repton as part of the grounds of Casina, a grand house which stood on the top of Red Post Hill, was well maintained. A group of concerned local residents are in the process of reforming the Friends of Sunray Gardens. with a view to providing volunteers on the first Sunday of each month, meeting at 10am until 1pm. The first meeting started in May. There is a lot of work to be done, in cooperation with Southwark Council, to tidy up the park as well as longer term development and planning about which the group seeks to consult and communicate.
There is no membership fee, no requirement to volununteer and everyone is invited to join. All suggestions for the park improvements are welcome. Email:
Mural at the Charter School
Following the bad weather in February and March, a small area of tiles was dislodged from the large mural on the side of the main hall at the Charter School. Typical of its period, the mural was part of the original school built in the late 1950s. The Society has funded a specialist report on the mural’s condition and temporary repairs will be carried out to make sure that there is no further damage from weather ingress.
The tiles were supplied by Carters of Poole, now known as the Poole Pottery. The firm started manufacturing in 1873 and their products will be known to local residents as they were used extensively on the London underground, most notably on the Victoria line. At one time they also provided the GLC blue plaques.
The question though is what to do for the longer term. The school has other priorities in these times of more stringent cost controls but it is an important part of the school’s history and should be repaired - perhaps the Council could help out.
An ‘Egg-cellent’ Idea
The traders in Dulwich Village promoted Dulwich’s historical legacy with an Easter Egg hunt in April. Devised by Mary Green and supported by The Dulwich Estate and the Traders’ Association, thirty local artists were invited to create an image on an oversized egg of some aspect of Dulwich’s past. Lord Byron, Margaret Thatcher, P G Wodehouse and Edward Alleyn featured and characters such as Frankenstein and The Queen of the Gipsies were also reproduced. Accompanying the eggs was an illustrated map noting the historical significance of the egg portrayals and their location.
During the recent Dulwich Festival the entire collection was exhibited in one of the shop windows
Dulwich Picture Gallery and The London Festival of Architecture have announced six shortlisted architectural practices to develop proposals for the second ‘Dulwich Pavilion’ - a temporary, outdoor visitor welcome and public events space within the historic grounds of Dulwich Picture Gallery.
The practices will develop designs in response to a site-specific brief. An exhibition of the models will be on display at Dulwich Picture Gallery during the London Festival of Architecture from June - July 2018 as part of this year’s London Festival of Architecture. During June the public will have the chance to vote for their favourite design. The winning proposal will be revealed in July ahead of construction - subject to planning consent - at Dulwich Picture Gallery in time for the London Festival of Architecture in June 2019. The primary objective of the structure will be to offer visitors a refreshing welcome and orientation space to set the tone for their visit to the Gallery.
The six shortlisted practices are:
1. Casswell Bank Architects www.casswellbank.com
Casswell Bank Architects was founded in 2015 by Alex Bank and Sam Casswell. The practice’s emphasis on identifying and understanding architectural character is demonstrated in a portfolio of projects for different uses at a range of scales, including commissions from cultural organisations and reconfigurations of historic institutions.
2. e10 Studio www.e10studio.co.uk
e10 is a London based design studio formed around a network of collaborators, including researchers, designers and makers. By drawing upon the diverse disciplines of its team they develop a nimble response to projects with conceptual clarity and care for craft. Central to all work by the studio is the commitment to enrich the built environment whether it be through architectural design, research, curation or construction.
3. Flea Folly Architects www.fleafollyarchitects.com
FleaFollyArchitects was founded in 2013, by architects and ‘spatial story-tellers’ Pascal Bronner and Thomas Hillier. Striving to create enjoyable architecture at even the smallest of scales, the practice combines a strong sense of narrative and detailed model-making skills to create projects that blend architecture, contemporary art and installation.
4. Pricegore with Yinka Ilori www.pricegore.co.uk@Pricegore
With offices in London and Bath, Pricegore was founded by architects Dingle Price and Alex Gore in 2013. With work across the UK and in Europe, the practice’s portfolio includes residential, arts, and civic sector projects, at all scales from furniture to urban strategy. Working in collaboration with the studio, London-based designer Yinka Ilori specialises in the imaginative upcycling of vintage furniture. Inspired by the African influences of his childhood, Yinka’s pieces span the divisions between art and design while sparking a conversation about social norms and consumer culture.
5. Projects Office www.projectsoffice.co
Projects Office is an architecture and design studio based in Whitechapel. Founded in 2014 by Megan Charnley, Bethan Kay and James Christian, the multi-disciplinary practice’s ethos is fantastic pragmatism: applying a narrative and collaborative approach to create imaginative, effective spaces across a broad range of sectors.
6. PUP Architects www.puparchitects.com
Founded in 2014, PUP Architects is run by architecture and design trio Theo Molloy, Chloë Leen and Steve Wilkinson. The studio‘s dynamic portfolio showcases several one-off structures and experimental projects, which continue to inform the team’s innovative approach to materials within their larger architectural commissions.
Over 150 practices entered the Dulwich Pavilion competition, which is being judged by a panel of leading architectural and cultural figures including:
Mary Duggan: Director, Mary Duggan Architects
Tom Dyckhoff: writer and historian
Al Scott: Director, IF_DO
Jennifer Scott: The Sackler Director, Dulwich Picture Gallery
Tamsie Thomson: Director, London Festival of Architecture
Stefan Turnball: Trustee, Dulwich Picture Gallery
Oliver Wainwright: architecture and design critic, The Guardian
Youth representative from the Gallery’s programme for young people
The project builds on the success of the first-ever Dulwich Pavilion - After Image by Bermondsey-based practice IF_DO - which was one of the triumphs of the Gallery’s bicentenary year and the London Festival of Architecture in 2017. The pavilion was transformational for the Gallery as well as IF_DO: their first competition win resulted in global exposure and several awards including the American Architecture Prize. It has led to a series of exciting new commissions that have enabled the practice to triple in size.
InTown Lectures at Bell House Thursday June 28 Jo Walton will talk about Dulwich Picture Gallery’s exhibition on Edward Bawden. Tickets £10 to include a glass of wine and the lecture starts at 7.30 pm with doors open at 7 pm.
Tickets from the Bell House Eventbrite website : https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-art-and-craft-of-edward-bawden-tickets-45205963253
For more information about this and future lectures please contact Barbara Richardson at:
The unexpectedly cold weather of March brought with it an influx of Redwings also accompanied by Fieldfares to take advantage of our open spaces where falls of snow were lighter than elsewhere and a more hopeful food source.
The national story of the winter was a major eruption of Hawfinches from the continent which were said to be “everywhere”. These large finches are partial to Hornbeam so we could have had records. It would be of interest to hear if anybody happened upon them in Dulwich.
One unusual record came from Stan Kobiak in February who photographed this cock Pheasant in Rycotes Mead. Dulwich is not a natural habitat for Pheasants although it might have found refuge in our woods. Pheasants are not in fact indigenous native birds but along with Rabbits and Brown Hares were imported by our forefathers as a food resource. There is a record of their having been kept by the Romans but these were darker than the birds we see here and probably did not become feral. There are also monastic records of their having been kept in captivity before the Norman conquest but it was after the conquest that the lords and barons introduced pheasants with a prominent white ring around the neck. Our Pheasants are a mixture with other races introduced later from the Caucasus which had darker plumages than the first and lacked the white neck ring characteristic of the race from farther east. There is a great variability in plumage and the bird in Rycotes Mead with its partial white ring was clearly a mixture of races. The name Pheasant apparently comes from a Greek source Phasis , a river where Pliny recorded that Pheasants were to be found and the name is translated into several European languages.
At the time of writing winter has transformed into what looks like summer after a spring monsoon and summer migrant Blackcaps are in full song with Brimstones, Orange Tip and Holly Blue butterflies emerging. A Firecrest is reported to be singing in Sydenham Hill wood and the gentle cascading song of a migrating Willow Warbler has been heard in Belair. Willow warblers were once the most numerous breeding warbler in the south of England but they no longer breed locally and generally appear to have been shifting their breeding range further north, perhaps in response to climate change and the better availability of the right food for nestlings. The erratic weather of recent years may indeed be a cause of mismatch between the hatching of nestlings of many birds and their food availability, but some such as perhaps our colonizing Firecrests may be taking advantage.
I have recently been in correspondence with research scientists at the RSPB concerning the result of their Big Garden Birdwatch. Each year they report the House Sparrow as the most numerous occupant of gardens followed by the Starling and the Robin but this year comes ninth in the table. This is clearly at variance with our experience here and I suggested that a more interesting analysis to be by zone rather than region. Factors such as urban air pollution may be making a difference either through invertebrate food supply or as my correspondent suggested oxidative stress. It would indeed be surprising that if air pollution is causing problems with our own public health, it did not also affect the eco health of our wildlife. I should be interested to hear if any of our readers have observations on the subject.
Do keep sending me your records not just of birds but any unexpected wildlife with photographs if you are lucky enough to be able to get one.
Peter Roseveare Wildlife Recorder (020 7274 4567)