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Welcome to Alexandra Park
in North London

Alexandra Park is a delightful mixture of informal woodland, open grassland, formal gardens and attractions such as the boating lake, cafés and the pitch-and-putt course. It covers 196 acres around Alexandra Palace in North London.

The Friends of Alexandra Park is a voluntary group that promotes the use of the Park, encourages the conservation of its wildlife and protects the Park from unwanted development. 


Friends Tweets

  • We organise walks and talks about trees, bats, fungi, moths, insects, birds and the history of Alexandra Park. You can also join our work parties.

 

 

  • We run the Park Visitor Centre, where you can find out more about the park; there are also activities for children. In the winter months, we open every Sunday 11 am to 1 pm and also the first Saturday of the month.





Friends Upcoming Events


Barnet Band in The Grove

Sunday, 23rd June 2pm to 3:45pm

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If StrEatlife on the Terrace was a little too hectic for you last weekend or you just need a little rest, enjoy the relaxing delights of live, unamplified music in the sylvan surroundings of the Grove. Music from the films, classics, traditional - a varied programme for a summer afternoon*.
Bring a chair, sit on the grass, or just promenade with your ice cream!

*Weather permitting, of course.





Conservation Work Party

Wednesday, 26th June 10am to 12:30pm

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Wild flowers were start to come out in bigger numbers last month and now it should a forest of flowers, with more butterflies to take advantage of them....

The picture is of a cardinal beetle one of many around last month.

No special skills required; enjoy exercise, plenty of fresh air and good conversation. Please bring secateurs if you have them, but we have extras you can use. 

We will be joined by TCV from Waltham Forest who will lend a heavy hands to the work!

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 Lower Road, at 10 am. 







Friends' Recent Events


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The Friends had their regular stall at the Palace Gates Fete in June. This year we set up a little Xplorer trail around the triangle which gave kids a trail to follow around the stalls. It went very well. There was a lot for them to do around the Fete with mask making, shove halfpenny, a water game plus plus.

We also signed up some new members to keep over membership over 300.

Some of the adult visitors tested their skill with a little tree identification quiz as well.

A successful afternoon... More pictures from the fete here.



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Awful weather over the last few days and and gentle drizzle for the time of the walk itself so no surprise that we were just three.

Had a look to see what could be seen from the Rose Garden. Broadwater Farm and buildings in Stratford were all visible with the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium looking dominant to the East from the top of the steps.

We moved up to the terrace to get a good look at the protected view of St. Pauls. For all of these buildings, we were very lucky to have Tony with us who brought his Scope (birdwatching
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telescope).

We could see lots of progress on the various new builds visible at Tottenham Hale and on Seven Sisters road with the Altitude development by Hornsey Station looking quite complete.

Woodberry Down buildings stand out by the new wetlands area and we spotted the buildings in the Stratford area.

Poor visibility made the Canary Wharf area look dull in the gloom. 

We continued the tour of the horizon with the new buildings in the City and the Elephant and Castle area.

Visible on the horizon to the left of the city was the new City North construction going up in Finsbury Park.

Other sights seen were the London Eye and the Royal London Hospital.

Looking closer to home it is very difficult to spot Crouch End Clock Tower, but thanks again to the Scope...

We all adjourned to the Phoenix to warm up and escape the weather surrounded by Madonna fans ready for here interview in the Theatre.

DISCLAIMER All the pictures were taken the following evening.


We welcomed Irma Irsara, Paul Smith and Dennis Fullwood from the Quekett Microscope Group who set up a large number of microscopes with screens and laptops to view the microbes seen. One was set up to look at diatoms - small plants that move. Another looked at the detail of everyday objects such as coins and watches and the third was looking at all the bugs brought by children and other members of the public. At the same time, we had a scavenger hunt set up outside with horse chestnut leaves and daisies etc. sought out. Finally there was an Xplorer trail set up in The Grove with a challenge to find all the cards set up around the Park.

Quite a lot of enthusiastic children could be seen running 
around the park and peering into microscopes. 

The Quekett Microscope website has information on microscopes for children here.

A big thank you to Irma, Paul and Dennis whose group meets up at the Natural History Museum and elsewhere. For information on their events, please follow this link.

Top picture thanks to Irma Irsara. Report with pictures by Quekett here.




Mark Evison, the Park Manager of 12 years standing, give us insight into the challenges that he faced on arriving at the Park and the differences that he has seen around the Park.

The landscape of the Park has evolved rather than changed radically over this period. Safety and Management structures have been put into place/are being put in place and in the future the Strategic Vision will guide the overall management of the park going forward.

Mark went into a couple of case studies on decisions required with trees not in their prime. If they are old and "valuable", can they be kept, protected or must they go?

He also mentioned the events that have been seen in the Park over his "rein" with pictures of the Rapha Supercross and Red Bull BMX - and the challenges they gave to the park.


Good news! Ticket purchasers for events in the palace pay a "Restoration Levy" and now part of this money will come directly to the Park to help with future proofing and improvements.

The Chair, Gordon, gave a summary of the work of Friends over the past year with over 40 events taking place, with improved "targeting" of events for children on Bank Holidays and at the Great Fete.

Concern over the required spraying against oak processionary moth was mentioned and the increased, and future predicted further increase, of footfall into the Park.


Our financial position remains healthy with a similar income to last year and money ready for the future publication of a book on the history of the park.

The AGM itself confirmed the present Committee as Gordon Hutchinson (Chair), Jane Hutchinson (honorary secretary), Nick Bryant (honorary treasurer), Caroline Beattie-Merriman, Frances Minnion, Robyn Thomas and Stephen Middleton.



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It was warm, sunny day for the eight of us to try and keep the bramble in check. There is now a crow that regularly patrols the area looking goodies and he/she was there. Other wildlife included bees, quite a lot of cardinal beetles flying around and two types of bug, the dock bug and bishop's mitre bug (lower picture). As to  the wild flowers, many more were now in evidence including meadow vetchling, bird's foot trefoil, the first of the knapweedred clovercat's earcreeping cinqfoilcompact rushcreeping buttercup and red campion.

The volunteers had a really good go at the bramble and Mark Evison, the Park Manager came along to offer his thanks.
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It is called the Butterfly Meadow (by us) so which ones did we see? Small white, orange tip, holly blue, small copper, speckled wood and lots of brimstones.

Thanks as always to all our helpers.


Previous Conservation Work Party days










Family Activities Day Early May

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Lots on offer for kids with leaf identification, a scavenger hunt - to find things like bugs and daisies - and a chance to make a herb pot or a sunflower seed pot. Not enough? There was also two Xplorer Trails in The Grove for younger and older kids.

The weather wasn't so sparkling, but at least there was no rain and we welcome over a hundred people over the four hour period.

It was great to see the smiles on kids faces as they went away with their home-made plant pots or came back from a successful Scavenger or Xplorer hunt.

Also a special thanks to all our volunteers who made this such a successful afternoon.



Spring Bird Walk

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Cool morning in April for our APOG (Alexandra Ornithological Park Group) led Bird Walk with Gareth at the lead.

Starting in The Grove as usual we listened and watched. Good sightings and hearings of Blackcap and Stock Dove while on the ground a Magpie and Green Woodpecker were the entertainment.

We were quite a large group with more than a couple of 
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dozen. 

Moving away from The Grove, we checked the South Slope before passing to the Butterfly Meadow spotting a Speckled Wood butterfly on the way.

Arriving for the Bird Ringing Demonstration, we had a good view of a Peregrine Falcon chasing a gull towards the reservoir before returning v. quickly over us.

Found in the mist net was a Dunnock which was weighed, measured and ringed before flying off.

Other birds seen/heard included Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird, Parakeet, Wren, Grey Heron, Dunnock, Greenfinch and Starling.



Members' Walk: Wild Flowers

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A cold and overcast April day for our Spring wild flower walk. An impressive 19 people were present to search for wild flowers and a few native trees.

Meeting at the Park Visitor Centre. We gave the participants a list of the flowers expected to be seen. (and all bar one were!)

By the centre, we saw Daisy (left), Lesser CelandineHybrid BluebellsHerb Robert among many others with some participants trying to out-guess others....

Some trivia was added along the way including the fact that the Celandine comes from the Greek for swallow and flower is meant to welcome the arrival of these birds....

Another unsubstantiated fact was the the name of Forget-me-not (seen walking towards The Grove Car Park) came from a German who picked the flowers gave them to his true love before being 
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swept away in the Danube crying "Vergissmeinnicht". See here. or from German Wikipedia an alternative explanation: "Because the blue flowers remind of the folk belief in the eyes of newly in love people, forget-me-nots were given as love and loyalty, mostly from the man to the woman."

The other side of the car park, we found that the Wood Anemones were still flowering and someone spotted a flower not on the original list - a Smooth Sow-thistle. Double points!!!

Divertissement... We looked the Horse-chestnut and noticed how the colour changes from white and yellow to white and red when flowers are pollinated. Picture left courtesy of Conchita Navarro.

Wandering downhill, we looked the female and male holly flowers before crossing the road and heading towards the Paddock Car Park - a surprising wild flower hot spot.

Native bluebells, common vetch (left below) and most impressively a
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path through wild garlic.

After a look at some delicate Cowslips and Greater Stitchwort, we finished the walk with Borage and Greater Celandine and the last of decamped to the Capital Garden Centre for a welcome cup of tea and something nice to eat.

A good haul of flowers in a one hour short walk.

Disclaimedr. Links to Male Holly and Sow-thistle from elsewhere in the Park.









Spring Tree Walk

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We met by the BBC Tower as the last the hail passed over leaving a chilly cloudy day with a patch of sunshine over the new Spurs stadium.

Adrian introduced the walk as a talk on the trees of the South Slope (actually South East) below the Palace. Seventeen of us made our way down the steps to investigate what's there.

We first looked at the reduced holly, cornelian cherries and hornbeam before stopping at a group of horse chestnuts large and small. (left) We saw the leaves and flower buds appearing and were reminded that this tree, like all maples and ash 
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trees, has opposite buds. This means that a twig appears on both sides of the branch at the same point in contrast to most trees where they appear in an alternating or spiral pattern. At this point the sun came out and kindly stayed with us for the whole walk.

We admired a cedar (bunches of needles and no proliferation of cones) and scots pine (pinkish bark higher up) to illustrate a couple of the conifers on the slope.

Oaks were mostly in flower with their long male catkins and light coloured leaves a welcome Spring sight.

We wandered into the secondary woodland below the grassy slope that has grown up since the closure of the racecourse in the early 70s.

There were a lot of different species represented in this woodland including especially Field Maple, but also lots of ash and some silver birchgrey poplar and plane trees. Slightly more surprising was, perhaps, the presence of a flowering cherry. (above)

We walked back up the slope to reward ourselves afterwards with tea in the Boating Lake cafe.

More pictures from the walk here.

Reports from earlier tree walks here.

Bat Walk, Spring 2019

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Layers were needed to combat the cold, but luckily no wind or rain so we expected to see some bats. 

Gordon used one of the smaller members of the audience illustrate the structure of a bat wing - long fingers with skin stretched between them. The usual vampire bat disclaimers were mentioned and after more bat information, the bat detectors were given out to the twenty or so strong audience.

A quiet period ensued as it got gradually darker and then on queue one or two pipistrelle bat made their appearance and after a distinct pause they were joined by a few more flying mammals.

Reports from earlier bat walks here.

Swift Conservation Trust Talk

It was a great pleasure to welcome back Edward Mayer to give us a further talk on all things swifts....

These are the birds you can help.

Edward of the Swift Conservation Trust started off by pointing out that there are lots of species we can’t help directly because, individually, we don’t own enough land. But each of us can help swifts by putting up nest boxes. In County Mayo, for example, extra nest boxes have helped to increase the population of swifts by 8%. With that inspiring thought in mind, Edward carried on to tell us about these aerial acrobats that drink, eat (up to 20,000 insects a day), mate and sleep on the wing.

We heard about how their wings are so perfectly designed that they haven’t changed for at least 49 million years (judging by fossils). We also heard how, with climate change, tropical insect-borne diseases are spreading, and how far-sighted Italian municipalities are encouraging people to put up nest boxes to bring in the swifts that will keep insect numbers down.

Unfortunately swift numbers are declining, and this is mainly due to modern buildings, which don’t have enough holes and crevices. So, if you are having work done to your house, makes sure the builders go in carefully, add nest boxes while scaffolding is up, and check out the Swift Conservation Trust website for many more ideas. 



The Conservation Volunteers

April 2019

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Work consisted of taking some of the wood available from the felled trees on the edge of the Paddock Car Park and extending the existing dead hedge on the side of the car park entrance road.

New posts were sourced among the available material and knocked in. Then wood was woven into the hedge. A significant section of new hedge was completed before suitable wood was exhausted.

Weather? Cloudy with showers and occasional touches of sun.


The next conservation session in the Park will be on Wednesday, 26th June working together with the Friends of Alexandra Park. Meet at 10am. To book or for more information contact David Allen the new BAT East Project Officer, email david.allen@tcv.org.uk or call on Tel: 07917 267 573.









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