The Wildlife Group is a subcommittee of Dulwich Society members who collectively carry interest and expertise in birds, mammals, butterflies, moths and small insects as well as the wild plants that may be found locally. We meet every two months and contribute regularly to the Dulwich Society magazine and e-newsletter. We update the website regularly with our minutes and items of local wildlife interest. We are concerned about the pressures on and risks to wildlife at the present time and it is a key objective to promote its conservation by informing, educating and enhancing awareness of the wildlife around us. Dulwich is a green urban oasis supported by a number of organisations. The Wildlife Group supports the important work of the London Wildlife Trust in the Sydenham Hill and Dulwich woods and the Friends of each of the local parks, as well as liaising with the Dulwich Society Trees and Garden Committees.
Reports and sightings should be sent to Dr Peter Roseveare (Chair & Recorder). Further details are in our terms of reference (PDF).
Contact Peter Roseveare,
Recent press reports that ‘citizen science’ wildlife recording is good for our wellbeing, as well as being good for science, show that our Wildlife Group was leading the way with its 2022 Garden Diary. They are always interested to hear from members so please send any unusual wildlife sightings in Dulwich to
March can be the leanest winter month for birds. Please keep your feeders and bird tables clean and topped up. However, the RSPB says not to feed the ducks in the park for now, to stop the possible spread of avian flu.
Dave Clark of our Wildlife Group is giving a talk on his experience of the Via Pontica bird migration flyway in Bulgaria.
From sub-Saharan Africa to the expanses of northern and eastern Europe, and back again, the Via Pontica acts as an important bird migration route. This talk will focus on the Poda bird reserve in Bulgaria, centrally placed on the Pontica, where the birds funnel close to the Black Sea on their spring and autumn journeys.
Dave Clark is an ornithologist with a particular interest in the interactions between birds and humans. He holds an MSC in Ornithology from the University of Birmingham, and has recently published an academic study on exploring the motivations for garden bird feeding.
Thursday 16 February 2023, 7pm at Bell House, College Rd, SE21 7BG. Tickets are £8, book via Eventbrite here.
We are lucky that Dulwich and South London are strongholds for the Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus) and Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelopipedus). Their larvae feed in rotting wood before pupating in autumn, spending the winter in the wood then emerging as an adult the following summer. The Wildlife Group ask if you can create log piles in your garden for next year's stag beetles to lay their eggs. Their larvae need at least two years before emerging as the next generation and tidy gardens are not beneficial to them, so feel free to tidy up a bit less! More details on stag beetles and making log piles can be found here.
Advice on avian flu by the Dulwich Society Wildlife Group, December 2022
We are not aware of any dead birds attributable to avian flu in Southwark. However we know that wild birds have died in the Greater London, Thames and Kent coast areas through HPAI – Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HN51) and that the disease is still with us so we should be aware of the consequences. So far it has affected 65 species of wild birds including geese, ducks, gulls, seabirds, terns and birds of prey.
This rare ring ouzel was spotted by a Dulwich resident in their garden in November 2022, this image comes from their trail camera, set up to photograph wildlife. Ring ouzels breed in the UK in the summer before wintering in Spain and northwest Africa so it is unusual to see them here in Dulwich in November. At first the resident thought it might be a leucistic blackbird but both they and our Wildlife Group are sure it's a ring ouzel. Slightly smaller than a blackbird, male ring ouzels are particularly distinctive with black plumage with a pale wing panel and striking white breast band. Look out for one in your garden!
Leave the leaves! Our Wildlife Group would like to suggest that we clear leaves from lawns and paths but leave them on open ground and in our borders so that earthworms, beetles, bees and and other invertebrates can flourish in the leaf litter. The leaves will also protect our plants and build better soil. Benefits of leaving the leaves include habitats for beneficial insects including pollinators, less water runoff, healthier soil, and less air and noise pollution. Leaving the leaves saves you time, money (free mulch!) and helps the planet. Tidying our gardens just got easier! See this short video for more.
Sylvia Myers, senior site and projects officer with London Wildlife Trust at the Centre for Wildlife Gardening, shares her tips on successful wildlife gardening.
The question you might ask is why do you want to encourage wildlife into your garden? Firstly, a lot of declining wildlife lives (and can thrive) in our gardens - hedgehogs, house sparrows and the majestic stag beetle. Secondly and more selfishly, wildlife can help us - toads eat slugs, ladybirds eat aphids and worms make compost. Thirdly, wildlife is a wonder in our gardens that can bring so much colour and life - blackbirds’ sweet morning chorus, iridescent damselflies paired in a wheel and hummingbird hawkmoths hovering with exotic flair.
Making small changes and additions to help wildlife is easy, and a lot of the activities can be fun projects as well. Even one or two tiny additions can make a huge difference. London’s private gardens make up about a quarter of London by area. That’s a lot of London - and it’s even more in Dulwich. If we all do our bit to help wildlife we can create a giant nature reserve that is fantastic for both people and wildlife.
During August and September, the Wildlife Group would like you to tell them what you see in your garden. Anything that grabs your attention: birds singing, butterflies flying, beetles beetling, insects pollinating, whatever. Just give a date and a species name if you know it (but ‘flying ant’ will do).
Watching your garden wildlife is not only enjoyable, recording your observations will help the Wildlife Group understand what we are gaining and losing in Dulwich, in the context of the climate crisis.
Email your information to our Wildlife Group at