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Welcome to Alexandra Park 

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The Old Racecourse

The Friends of Alexandra Park work to promote and protect Alexandra Park - the grounds around Alexandra Palace in North London.

Alexandra Park was originally designed by Alexander McKenzie, in 1863, as a park and pleasure ground. 


The 196 acres of park now consists of a delightful mixture of informal woodland, open grassland, formal gardens and attractions such as the boating lake, cafes and the pitch-and-putt course.

Friends Tweets



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    What's going on in Alexandra Park
  • The Friends programme for 2017 includes walks and talks about trees, bats, fungi, moths, insects, birds and the history of Alexandra Park. Also, opportunities to join our work parties in the park.

Our 
Information Centre, from October 2017, is open every Sunday, and the first Saturday in the month, 11am - 1pm.



New Friends Events


Lost Railways of North London Talk

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Thursday, 23rd November, 7:30pm to 9pm

SORRY NOW FULLY BOOKED.

Come and hear the fascinating story of the lost railways of north London by local transport historian and author Jim Blake.

We have traces of the old line from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace still visible in the Park. There is a section that now houses the Railway Field Orchard and the bridge over Dukes Avenue entrance is still there (pictured).




Members Walk - Round the Park Perimeter

Saturday, 25th November, 11am to Noon

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November is not the month to stand around for too long looking at things, so this Saturday we will take a fairly brisk walk around the perimeter of the park. There will be some colour to admire in the trees which still have some leaves, and we will take stock of the changes which have taken place in the park over the last few years.

Members' walks are a chance to learn a little more about the park and what it contains, meet other members and ask awkward questions which the walk leader will try to answer!

Meet at the Park Avenue North entrance at 11am on Saturday November 25. The walk is a little under 5 kms (3 miles) and will last about an hour. We will be on paved paths most of the time, but there will be some mud.

No need to book.....

Conservation Work Party

Monday, 4th December, 10am to 12:30pm


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This will be our last effort of the year. What a difference a year makes with more bugs and beasties seen and a noticeable improvement and opening up of the habitat. After a visit from a Wildlife Trust expert, we have more ideas on improving the site.

So please come enjoy the fresh air and good conversation. Bring gardening gloves, shears and secateurs if you have them, but if not we have spares to loan.

We usually work from 10 am to 12.30 pm, but come for as long as you want. Meet at the Butterfly Meadow, if you know it, or at the finger post where the path from North View Road meets the (newly surfaced) Lower Road.

The picture above is from November's effort.


Past events

Details of many of our previous events can be found here

These are the most recent events:


November Conservation Work Party

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No sun, but it stayed dry for us. After advice from an expert from the Wildlife Trust, we decided that a lot of our effort this month would be used in cutting and removing some of the grass from the site. 

This made a change from the usual bramble attack although some were removed at the same time. Also, we reduced the height of some of the more spindly, shading trees on the southern edge. This should help light and heat levels.

A usual pause for juice and biscuits was welcome and gave us a chance to catch up on the latest Park information....

While working in the meadow several fungi were discovered including Inkcaps, Fly Agaric and vibrantly red coloured Waxcaps (left).



Autumn Fungi Walk

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A cloudy day, but fine for our Autumn Fungi Stroll led as ever by Andy Overall. We met up in the Park Information Centre where Andy gave us an overview of some of the most deadly fungi to avoid. He also gave us a look his new book coming out shorty -  a hefty tome full of pictures of fungi found in urban situations. More info on the book here.

We moved out of the Park Information and headed for the Railway Orchard where we spotted some Redlead fungi at the base of orchard trees. Several other fungi found in the Orchard area including Scurfy Twiglet, Conical Brittlestem (pictured left) and Wavy Cap.
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We paused by the dead oak opposite the Park Information Centre and inspected the growth of the Smokey Bracket.

Walking towards the Palace, we happened upon some edible treats, the Field Blewits.

Looking into the wood chip by the roses there was a treasure of finds. Amongst them were Common Rustgills and the foul smelling Stinkhorn.

A single edible Trooping Funnel was discovered and a group of Horse Mushrooms.

We did a circuit of the Western Arboretum not seeing many fungi although we did spot an Iodine Bonnet.

Back to the entrance of The Grove we had a couple of last discoveries including a Snowy Waxcap.





Family Activities Day

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On a cool Sunday in October, we had a Family Activities Day. A what? I hear you ask.

Three main activities were proposed... 

We had a Halloween-themed Xplorer trail in The Grove. Kids (and their parents) had to find coloured cards using a map and identify them (Ghosts, Witches, Bats etc.). Prizes were certificates and stickers.

The second activity was an Apple Peeling competition - the idea being to produce the longest piece of apple peel from a selection
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of similarly sized apples using an ingenious machine supplied by the Orchard Project. The prize, this time, was a pair of tickets to the Ally Pally Fireworks (kindly provided by the Palace). The winner, Tim, studied the apples very carefully before picking out one and then produced a piece of apple peel 190cm (6'3") in length - a great effort.

Perhaps the main activity was inside the Park Information Centre. Children were hard at work producing "Cat Masks" - a hands on task involving glue, paper etc. and the results were beautiful to behold and the kids walked off proudly with their own creations.

Not enough to do? There were also Scavenger Hunts available and, of course, the Park Information Centre was open for the usual enquiries (Where's the nearest toilet? How do I get to "Little Dinosaurs"). Joking apart, there are always people interested in how to get to the Parkland Walk, looking at our historical photographs and seeing what events are coming up next.

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.... and the weather? After a dull and cold start, the sun came out although you could still tell that we are now firmly in Autumn.














Autumn Tree Walk

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With about 20 people pushing into the Park Information Centre, our tree walks are as popular as ever.

This walk was a tree guide to The Grove. Adrian started by pointing out the age of some of the trees close to the centre and talking about the changing colours of leaves. We then moved into the area adjacent to the car park which is populated by mostly native trees. We could see there hornbeams and ash as well as both downy and silver birches. There were also some small english elms surviving.

Extracting ourselves from this little patch we stood by the large holm oak. Most people think of oaks as deciduous, but this one 
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keeps its leaves all Winter long.

We took a quick look at the two remaining chain saw sculptures (made out of an old dead cedar) before admiring the pines nearby. Both Corsican and Bhutan pines populate this area. The latter with impressive long, curved and resinous cones.

Passing the old veteran oak, we made our way towards the top of The Grove, looking at the Springfield Orchard which includes a couple of medlar trees with their distinctive fruits

The top of the grassy area contains a clump of Caucasian wingnuts which are trying to spread vigorously. Next to these trees is our only swamp cypress - a tall deciduous conifer looking over the 3-4-5 Playgroup. (pictured)

Circling around the Little Dinosaurs, we saw a Judas Tree on the right which had lost nearly all of its leaves and went on to admire a Red Oak with some colouring leaves.

Next en route was a sweet chestnut with its large serrated leaves.

To the left we noted the olive tree (planted by Ciro), hollies and european hop hornbeam trees (with their hop-like fruit) on the right.

Last stop was the Railway Field orchard before it was time for tea and biscuits in the warmth of the Park Information Centre.... 




October Members' Walk

We stuck to our time! A one hour walk around the Boating Lake to look at the birds on it and a few around it.


What did we see? (picture by Nick Bryant)

Four species of duck, our resident Mallards, Tufted Ducks and Pochards together with - newly arrived for Winter - Shoveler duck (below).

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This was perhaps the highlight as they had only been reported for the first time yesterday by one of the avid birders Bob Watts.

We looked at probably the hardest ID question - the difference between the female Pochards and female Tufted ducks. The males of these birds are much easier to identify.

We also contrasted the Moorhens and Coots.

There were Herring Gulls and Cormorants near the middle island, but all around the lake were Black Headed Gulls - not so black headed in their Winter plumage.

Canada Geese tracked us around and both Feral and Wood Pigeons were clearing up around the lake.




October Conservation Work Party

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A good turnout this month in spite of the overcast conditions (or perhaps because of it!). While working in Butterfly Meadow no butterflies were seen - perhaps that is the last of them for this year. On the up side we did see a ground beetle. Also a type of Shieldbug was discovered - a Hawthorn Shieldbug pictured left.

Still some plants in flower including Knapweed, Common and Hoary Ragwort, Lesser Stitchwort and Pignut.






September Conservation Work Party

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Yet more sunshine for our work in the Butterfly Meadow. The brambles have been further pushed back.

Instead of a picture of hard working volunteers, here is one of the two Small Copper butterflies seen while we were enjoying the space. The only other butterflies seen this time were Speckled Woods and some type of White...











Autumn Bat Walk

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Another fully booked Bat walk were told
 stories of Vampires and Giant Fruit Bats. 

We usually keep a look out for Britain's largest bat - the Noctule. This bat usually flies quite high and is not often seen at the lake. So we were especially pleased to see one make an early appearance. It flew over the lake for 5 to 10 minutes.



A little later the Soprano and Common Pipistrelles were out and flying just over our heads.

We had great views and heard a lot via the bat detectors.......  


Autumn Bird Walk and Ringing Display September 2017


On Sunday 10th September, approximately 20 (relatively) early risers gathered in the Grove car park and set off in the cool morning air in search of bird life. There we saw many coal tits, a single nuthatch and a stock dove – a beautiful bird with an iridescent, bottle-green band on the back of the neck. 

We headed up the corridor of trees towards the old oak tree, where our excellent leader, Gareth, with some cunning “pishing” (mimicking of calls) certainly had the attention of the birds in the vicinity, and they descended the trees out of curiosity.

Walking across the Park towards the football field, we stopped to look for the peregrine falcon which usually perches on the 
television tower, but unfortunately was not there. 

We made our way to the ringing point. Gerry has been ringing birds in Alexandra Park for 10 years, and only one year has he not managed to net a bird for us. This year Gerry netted a robin, a young blackbird (still moulting with a yellow gape) and a wren (which had been ringed earlier in the year). Gerry explained how a robin can be aged by the colour on the inside of its upper mandible, and also that, for their size, juvenile blue tits are the most aggressive of birds. 

We walked back towards the pitch and put course, and Gareth spotted, very high in the air, what he thought might have 
been the peregrine, but in fact was more likely to have been a hobby. The suspense of it all. 

As we rounded the pitch and put, Gareth spotted some familiar visitors – green woodpeckers – three of them, settled near the 2nd tee. These are lovely birds for us to routinely have in the Park. 

Finally, we made our way to the Boating Pond where Gareth needed to carry out a count of the birds on the Pond. Gareth was delighted because we spotted three large pink swans and a red dragon, floating serenely on the water, just returned after a long migratory flight from the Sunshine Garden Centre. 
A very enjoyable and informative event. Many thanks to Gareth and to Gerry.

Report by Theo Gatward










London Metropolitan Brass

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It is a little complicated. London Metropolitan Brass now have an Intermediate Band and a real Beginners Band.... On a dodgy Sunday (the weather), we were treated to music from both of these groups of players. 

Of special note it was a pleasure to welcome Beginners to their inaugural concert. In order to quell the nerves and make sure everything was perfect for their performance they did a quick run through in the Park Information Centre (picture left) while the main band were entertaining the people in The Grove.

When the Intermediate Band went on a break, in stepped the
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newbies who have only been playing together for 8 months.

They gave a well disciplined and entertaining performance cheered on by their fellow musicians - a great show and they were not put off by the very light drizzle.

Later back came the Intermediate Band fortified by wedding cake to resume their set with rousing music of all styles. The quality of this band continues to improve and a great experience for all in The Grove on our last Band performance of the year in the Park. They finished with a great rendition of Baggy Trousers.



September Members Walk

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A welcome big turnout for this month's walk with 15 Members gathering in The Grove.

The theme for this month's Members Walk was Boundary Oaks. Meeting up at the Park Information Centre, where many old maps are kept, we inspected them for traces of old field lines where we might find oaks predating the set up of the Park.

We started looking in The Grove where there are probably the oldest trees in the Park including the fenced off oak familiar to many visitors. (pictured)

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We then moved to look at trees by the edge of the allotments which may be old enough to have been there before the Park as well as a line on the edge of the road leading into the Garden
Centre.  Crossing the road there is another old oak a candidate for being prior to the park.

We walked around the Palace, ending up below the Rose Garden and seeing another line of oaks. These are probably old enough to have been present before the Park was set up. Some of these oaks have been fenced off as they have recently been dropping some limbs. 


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A final line of trees was in fact the most certain to be examples of trees present before the park. This line extends from the woodland near where the old Blandford Hall was across Alexandra Palace Way and to below the Lower Road. One of these trees fell down in February 2014 and its rings were counted. The number added up to just over 200 meaning that the tree was over 200 years old and was already 50 years old when the Park was founded.

The last tree in the line and on the walk was within the Nature Conservation Area. (pictured left)















On-going events

Free Health Walks

Health walks, starting in Priory Road and walking into Alexandra Park, take place every Monday at 10:15 am.

Everyone welcome, whatever level of fitness. Lasts 45 minutes.  More details.


Park Run in Alexandra Park


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The Ally Pally Park Run is a 5km timed run, jog or walk, which takes place in Alexandra Park every
Saturday at 9am.

On 23rd September the Park Run topped 300 runners!

Park Run is organised by volunteers and is free to anyone wishing to take part, but prior registration is needed. See http://www.parkrun.org.uk/allypally.


For an interview with the founder and director of Park Run in  Alexandra Park,  Catherine Edeam, see Interviews.


The Conservation Volunteers


November 2017

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With limited numbers, we cleared a large section of bramble near the old Rifle Range in the Nature Conservation area. Ash saplings (many/most suffering from Ash Dieback) allow to promote more biodiversity. 

Other trees/saplings in the area included Horse Chestnut, Oak, Hornbeam, Sycamore, Hawthorn, Alder Buckthorn, Goat Willow and Guelder Rose.

Of interest....Willow Gall seen on Goat Willow caused by a sawfly.




The Conservation Volunteers work in the grounds of Alexandra Park usually on the second Sunday of every month. However next workday to be confirmed.
 
They carry out various conservation tasks such as pond clearance, building foot bridges, planting trees, and opening glades to increase bio-diversity.



Want to hear about future Park and Alexandra Palace Way closures?

Natalie Layton of the Alexandra Park and Palace Trust has clarified that anyone wishing to receive future notifications of closures of Alexandra Palace Way (W3 etc.) or parts of the Park (not marketing emails) should send a request to: Natalie.Layton@alexandrapalace.com



If you are fascinated by the Trees in the Park you may wish to try out our  new and growing "Tree App".

Follow this link for details.



Items which originally appeared on this Home page, may have been moved to other pages, such as Park Issues and Previous Events in the Park. 

Please explore our other pages - scroll up, and see the menu across the top of the page.

 
 
 
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