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Friends' Work Days

The Friends of Alexandra Park occasionally invite members to help with maintenance work in the park grounds.  Dates are announced in our newsletter to members, and on our Home page.

This page shows reports of some of our past work days. 

See TCV for work days organised by The Conservation Volunteers.

Sandwiched between a couple of bad days, the sun came out for us again. This month, we planted some yellow rattle seeds. This is a partial parasite on grasses reducing their vigour and allowing more wild flowers to come through.

Others carried on with bramble removal with a final job being to prune the blackthorn on the edge of the meadow to encourage further growth and give more breeding sites for nesting birds.

Birds were not much in evidence apart from a glance of a 
kestrel, crows overhead and a robin benefiting for the turning over of the soil.

Only one wild flower was flowering - knapweed, but we did see several different types of fungi including Bay Bolete (left) and Glistening Inkcap

October Conservation Work Party

Each time that we work in the Butterfly Meadow, we try and keep a list of the wild life seen. This month only 5 different flowers were seen in flower, just one common blue butterfly was spotted, but the observant amongst us saw a peregrine go over chasing a pigeon. Other birds seen were 2 species of woodpecker, a wren and many corvids (birds in the crow family). The most impressive of the latter was a flight of about a hundred migrating jackdaws.

On the work front, there was more cutting back of the grass which some people enjoyed (picture) and others were rooting out the bramble on another lovely sunny day.

September Conservation Work Party

Our main focus this month was grass cutting and removing the grass to the dead hedge bordering the meadow. A traditional form of management to increase floral diversity. We used garden shears and a battery-powered hedge trimmer (which was most effective) and, with 15 of us there, we cut most of the area we needed to. Like last year, we only cut the grass at the west end of the meadow, the idea being to have a variety of habitats within the meadow boundary, hopefully increasing its attractiveness to a wider range of insects.

August Conservation Work

Sun and clouds for our return to the Butterfly Meadow. Fourteen of us were on hand to remove more brambles and tree saplings from the area.

While there, there were sightings of several different species of butterflies. Brown Argus, Common Blue, Small Copper, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and a white of some type.

Also spotted was a nice clump of Artist's Bracket fungus.

As we finished, a pair of butterfly spotters came to see our Brown Argus butterflies that they had read about - a nice reward for our work in improving this site. These butterflies hadn't been seen here before this year.

July Conservation Work

A break from the normal routine... Due to the hot dry weather, the Friends decided to concentrate on watering the newly planted saplings near the Park Information Centre.

These trees were planted by TCV and have had significant watering by John O'Conner, but in this long hot spell, it was felt that they could do with an extra dose of water.

A good turnout as usual and an efficient watering ensued...

June Conservation Work

Sunshine as usual for our attack on the Butterfly Meadow. At this time of year, we are just trying to hold our own.

The grass had grow very tall and the first swathe of wild flowers was starting to come out. We attacked the brambles and while we were working we heard Chiffchaff, Blackcap still singing. The first Meadow Brown butterflies were flitting around. Plants in flower included Red Campion, Common Mouse Ear, Common Birds Foot Trefoil and the first Common Ragworts.

The picture taken is of a final instar Forest Bug (a type of Shield Bug).

May Conservation Work

Spring is in full flood now with several butterflies coming to admire our work. Common Blues were seen for first time (earlier blue butterflies were Holly Blues). There was a pair of Brimstones mating (left) looking a little tatty this time of year. The food plant of this caterpillar is the Alder Buckthorn and it was good to see a few saplings of this tree on the edge of the meadow. We also saw both Speckled Wood and Orange Tip butterflies.

The area is transforming now with increasing patches of Red Campion (left), a brilliant patch of creeping buttercup and a large number of other wild flowers brightening up the area.

There is still bird song in evidence with Chiff Chaffs, Blackcaps and Song Thrushes proclaiming their territories. This can be expected to die off in the next few weeks.

As to the work, even with the good turnout again this month, at this time of year, we have to work hard to keep pace with the growing bramble and tree saplings. With this effort, we hard succeeding in making this little 
suntrap a valuable ecological niche in Alexandra Park.

April Conservation Work in the Park

Very hot - to constrast from last month being cancelled due to the snow...

A very good turnout of 14 people to help us make a mark. Brambles were removed as were tree saplings trying to re-establish in the grassy area.

We were treated to some Brimstone butterflies passing through as well as seeing some 7 spot ladybirds and hearing some Chiffchaffs.

Dandelions were springing up all over, Wood-rush was seen, some Lesser Celandines were still flowering and Hornbeam, Field Maple and Norway Maple trees were all in flower.

The juice was especially welcome in the heat.

Spring Litter Clear up

A good core of volunteers met up on an overcast Saturday to do our bit for the Great British Spring Clean. We were well-equipped with litter pickers and hooped waste bags. Why hooped? The bags are attached to a rigid hoop to make it easier to put the litter in the bag.

We set off from the Park Information Centre picking up litter on the way as we moved towards the South Slope especially concentrating on the bramble patches. We swept across the top of the slope and headed for the Rose Garden and the area below it.

What did we find? Nothing too shocking. A bobble from a bobble hat, plastic, glass and tin drinks containers, cigarette butts, cigarette packet plastic covers and, maybe a sign of the times, few actual cigarette packets.

About 15 bags of rubbish were removed from the grounds.

February Conservation Work Party

This month we were joined by three of John O'Conner's staff to help us cut through more brambles than ever! Fabio, Ruben and Sarah gave us some good professional help wielding mattocks and forks.

Occasional hazy sunshine broke through the cloud, but the weather was definitely colder than of recent so the hot lemon and biscuits were more than usually welcome.

Quite a good section of bramble cleared and some (mostly) ash regrowth removed. At the end of the session all the dead plant matter was loaded onto a trailer to go back to the John O'Conner compost heap.

We enjoyed working alongside the park contractor's people and get a bit more of an insight into how they work.

January Conservation Work Party

Sunshine, sunshine for our continued work on the Butterfly Meadow. More brambles removed. The progress is really quite impressive.

A good dozen people turned up impressive for mid Winter.

Looking around though, we have probably reached the low point on wild flower count. The only two flowering wild flowers seen were Grounsel and Common Ragwort. Looking forward to next month for more flowering activity.

December Conservation Work Party

Due to overwhelming demand from members we reinstated a December work party.

A good turn out (over a dozen) to further clear brambles and remove some of the excess grass to lower the fertility and promote the wild flowers. 

Not so much sunshine this time, but can't always win.....

Green grass, but by this time of year we didn't spot so many wild flowers. A few clumps of knapweed, last of the yarrow flowers and some sow-thistle.

November Conservation Work Party, 2017

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).

October Conservation Work Party

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


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 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...

Friends Conservation Work Party - August


Warm weather greeted the Friends for their August Work Party. The Butterfly Meadow is starting to slow down its bramble encroachment so we are really making progress.

Lots of mini mattock work.....

During the time there, we saw quite a lot of Meadow Brown butterflies together with the odd Common Blue and Gatekeeper.

A highlight for me was this Violet Ground Beetle which we disturbed before replacing it.

July Conservation Work

Another sunny day for our conservation work in the Butterfly Meadow. It is a real pleasure to see the improvement. Just on this day we saw 7 different butterfly species in this small area: GatekeeperMeadow BrownSmall Copper, Large White, Red Admiral, Large Skipper and Common Blue.

Also seen were Common Carder, Buff-tailed and Red-tailed Bumble Bees.

Walking to one end of the Butterfly, it great to see the Parent Bugs sitting on eggs and youngsters again. (pictured)

Our continued fight against the bramble is bringing great results...

June Conservation Work Party

A hot, hot day for the volunteers in the Butterfly Meadow. We sulked a bit around the edges trying to find some shade, but this didn't stop us from removing a large amount of bramble as well as some invasive tree saplings.

There was a good count of wild flowers in flower including knapweed, birds foot trefoil and red and white clover. Also we spotted an Alder Buckthorn tree which is a great find as it is the food plant for the Brimstone butterfly. 

On the subject of butterflies; Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Large Skipper and a White of some sort were seen during our work.

On the bird front Chiffchaff, Wren and Blackcap were still singing and a Kestrel hovered briefly over us.

May Conservation Work Party

It was a mixed sort of morning: hot when the sun was out and quite chilly when not.
Everything is growing apace in the Butterfly Meadow and bramble control feels somewhat daunting right now, but we only have to look back to a couple of years ago to remind ourselves how much we have achieved so far. Mark Evison, the Park Manager, dropped by and commended us on our efforts.

Flowers: red clover, mouse ear, common sorrel, sheep’s sorrel, creeping buttercup, bird’s foot trefoil, wood avens (herb bennet), knapweed, hawksbeard (possibly, beaked), creeping potentilla, dandelion.

Insects: orange tip butterfly; caterpillar of a narrow-bordered 5-spot burnet moth (pictured). (No yellow field ants this time.)

April Conservation Work Party

More sunshine for the volunteers in April. Bramble is regrowing strongly at this time of year, but we are making progress pushing it back.

During the work we saw some of the Yellow Meadow Ants which produce the anthills in the Butterfly Meadow - sorry no good picture.

Also there were some Oak Apples (a type of gall produced by a wasp) found on a Oak Tree in the area - impressive (pictured).

March Conservation Work Party


A dozen enthusiastic volunteers gathered in the Butterfly Meadow to continue our project to rid the area of brambles and allow grass and wild flowers to dominate this South facing slope.

Brambles were snipped and then dug out with mattocks. Had quite a bit of sunshine for first half of our work....

At our break for juice and home made cake (thanks Jane), a nursery web spider (pictured) decided to try out our picnic blanket.

Spring Litter Clear-Up in Alexandra Park

Thanks to an enthusiastic group of volunteers more litter was evicted from the Park after our first session last month.

The weather was sunny to aid our work.

This was all part of the National "Great British Spring Clean".

Litter Clean Up - February

“Winter is a good time to get out into the park and search out the litter which has blown into the undergrowth. A gallant band of members of the Friends did just this on February 4th, unearthing not only the usual haul of cans, bottles, plastic bags and crisp packets, but also a vacuum cleaner, children’s toys and a set of outdoor children’s furniture. However the prize for the most surprising find went to a life size inflatable doll (not inflated).

This was the first of two litter clean-ups we have planned for the park. The next coincides with “The Great British Spring Clean” weekend. We will meet at the Bedford Road entrance to the park at 10.30am on March 4th. Do join us.”

January 2017 Conservation Work Party

We continued to beat back the brambles to restore the habitat of the Butterfly Meadow. Winter is a good time to see and remove the brambles and it’s rewarding to see the difference we are making in this corner of the Park.

(Bramble picture from the Autumn.)

Friends November Work in the Butterfly Meadow 

Superb, scintillating sunshine for our November work in the Butterfly Meadow. We were nine enthusiastic volunteers gathered to further improve the area by cutting back another stretch of the area and removing the bramble and tree saplings.

The area is a warm, South facing slope which helped to make the Friends work more enjoyable. The great thing with working this time of year is that the brambles won't grow quickly back and we can further appreciate the restoration of the habitat.

All that is very well, but we were also very appreciative of our break the hot apple juice and excellent biscuits provided by Jane.

Bird life? A couple of robins were eager watchers on ready to benefit from our digging of the ground. Higher up in the trees, Trevor pointed out the sound of goldcrests in the area.

Conservation Work Party, September 2016


Perfect weather for pulling up brambles... Quite warm once we started working. There was further clearance of bramble around the edges of the area and some good removal of smaller brambles trying to encroach again on areas already cleared.

A nice pause in the middle to have a sip of juice with biscuits.

Pictured is one of the dozen volunteers who turned up on the day with a haul of the invaders.

Conservation Work Party, August 2016

Not quite as hot as the day before... ...it only got up to about 27 deg C for the determined ten volunteers (count carefully in the photo and add one for skiving photographer). We tackled some of tree saplings trying re-establish and coppice stumps throwing up growth.

It was also interesting and heartening to see plenty of ragwort out to provide nectar for the insects (visitors and passers by). Butterflies seen included Small and Large White, Common Blue, Gatekeeper and Meadow Brown.

Conservation Work Party, July 2016

Despite the threat of rain, a large and determined group tackled one of the remaining areas of bramble in the Butterfly Meadow. It is gratifying to see the wildflowers and waving grasses in the areas previously cleared – evidence that our efforts are worthwhile.

Beating back the brambles in the Butterfly meadow is thirsty work, so a break for (non-alcoholic) refreshment is essential. (pic)

Conservation Work Party, June 2016

As ordered in advance, sunshine for another work party morning in the Butterfly Meadow.....

The Summer Sun (yes there there has been a little) and the Summer Rains have conspired to invigorate the growth in the Butterfly Meadow. Unfortunately this has not just been the wild flowers.... ....bramble as well is fighting back against our eradication policy.

A good number of volunteers met up and cleared back some of the encroaching vegetation. During the lulls in work and the drink and 
biscuit break we saw plenty of wild flowers and insects.

Gordon found a Light Arches Moth. A Ground Beetle was seen by Trevor, but escaped the camera. Also seen was a female Common Damselfly, a Dock Bug, and as for butterflies; Ringlet, Large Skipper and Small Skipper (pictured).

The first of the Rosebay Willowherb is coming out and Ragwort is also starting to flower joining the Knapweed in providing sustenance for the insect population.

Conservation Work Party, May 2016

Yet again Helios blessed our efforts.... With the recent warmer weather, the brambles have started to emerge again and we were there to meet the threat.

There is, however, a lot more grass and wild flowers coming up inspiring us to continue the work. During the session, we identified some Common Mouse-Ear, Lesser Stitchwort and Red Clover among other wild flowers. Holly Blue and White butterflies flew past and a Peacock (pictured) stopped to bathe in the sun.

We enjoyed our morning session and especially our drink and snacks break in the middle! Come join us on another occasion.

Conservation Work Party, April 2016

Again sunshine for our morning on the Butterfly Meadow. We are still removing brambles and the results can now be seen with more wild flowers and grass returning to this important ecological area.

Sorrel and Field Woodrush with its interesting flowers was one of the flowers spotted in the area.

Mattocks are the tool for the job with mini ones and full sized diggers (pictured).

Litter Pick, April 2016

Great progress made again by our litter pickers this month. They finished working around the edge of the cricket pitch and amassed a lot more rubbish.

It was especially gratifying to hear from Green Flag judges visiting the park soon after that they were astonished at how little litter there was around our Park. Thanks to all that took part.

Friends Working in the Butterfly Meadow, March 2016

Back to the good weather! A beautiful sunny day for the volunteers for our April work party. One problem to bring hot or cold refreshments? Solution - both were available.

There was a lot bramble that had been cut by the Park Contractors, John O'Conner and one the main jobs was to rake it uptransport it for removal from the site.

Bramble roots were then set upon.

A few overhanging branches were also removed.

One great spot during the session was a Brimstone Butterfly that flew backwards and forwards in the meadow before settling briefly. (pic)

Jays were spotted and a blackbird and robin observed our work, but the bird highlight was probably the pair of kestrels circling overhead.

Our next date is Wednesday, 27th April.

Spring Litter Clean-Up, March 2016

After several years of deep cleaning in brambles on the South Slope, we moved our focus to near the Alexandra Park Club. 
We were not disappointed - there was plenty to occupy us. Luckily we had a turnout that at times reached 18 people. 

The bramble and ditch around the pitches was well filled with and cans and wrappers and by the time that we had finished about 2 dozen bags were full.

Great enthusiasm from our volunteers and we were happy see that we had made a great impression.


Most litter lying around in the Park is cleared up quickly by Park Contractors, John O'Conner, we just concentrate on what is left.

February 2016, Work Party

After a nice sunny day last time, drizzle greeted the volunteers for our February work session. Undeterred we moved some of the logs from the felled trees down to the edge of the field before resuming the removal of the bramble.

More progress was visible with cleared area growing and the opportunities for more wild flowers to populate the area ever greater.

Hot juice and chocolate biscuits were very welcome with Park Manager, Mark Evison coming along to see the work.

The rain had by then stopped and all was right with the world.... Join us next time on March 22nd.

January 2016, Work Party

Another great turn out on another lovely sunny day to make further progress beating back the brambles. Park Manager, Mark Evison came along to inspect the work and offer encouragement. Dan Hackett (with a four-legged friend) also made an appearance. He will be giving our March Talk on Insects and he gave us some tips on what to look out for. 
No cider for refreshments bearing in mind the sharp tools we were using, but hot apple juice was very welcome this time of year. We saw early the Spring coming on with a hawthorn already in leaf. The picture shows some of us at work as well showing some of the area already cleared.  

December 2015, Work Party

A great turnout on a lovely sunny day for our last work party of the year. We continued our work beating back the brambles and restoring the habitat of the Butterfly Meadow.

After a good first bash, we relaxed with hot apple and biscuits to reinvigorate the work force.

Returning to the job, we were pleased to see real progress and transformation happening to this pocket of the park.

October 2015, Work Party

Pushing back the brambles further in the Butterfly Meadow with a good number of helpers. Two stages firstly the brambles are cut back and then the roots are grubbed out. All this will help preserve this habitat of South facing grassland. It is a great area for insects and on this occasion a large Ichneumon (Ophion obscuratus) was seen (pic).

September 2015, Work Party

Once again a large trailer was filled with brambles and self-seeded saplings by the hard-working group of Friends clearing the Butterfly Meadow. Despite thorns, ravenous midges and a torrential downpour, the group made good progress. The west end of the meadow is now clear of an enormous bramble patch and more grassy areas are being exposed along the northern edge.

August 2015, Work Party

The Friends’ organised another conservation work party  in August.

We were happy to have a great turnout - thanks to all that came. Brambles were reduced from previous grassy areas. Also some unwanted saplings were culled. Progress is very obvious if you would like to take a look and hopefully more grass will colonise the cleared area.

We would like to think that this effort may have contributed to a recent sighting of a rare bird, the wryneck, in this area.....

July 2015, Work Party

We continued work in the Butterfly Meadow keeping control of the brambles and the emerging sapling trees. The sun blessed us and found out why this area is called the Butterfly Meadow. We saw a total of 8 different Butterflies and one colourful moth (Six Spot Burnet Moth). This reassures us that our work is well worth doing. The butterflies were mainly on the knapweed and ragwort. Also a large Emperor Moth caterpillar was seen munching on a young oak.

List of Butterflies seen:

Large Skipper
Essex Skipper
Speckled Wood
Large White
Meadow Brow
Holly Blue (pictured)

June 2015, Work Party

Colourful Burnet moths, Large White, Ringlet, Meadow brown and Small Skipper butterflies all came flew round to inspect our work.

We further cleared bramble and other vegetation in two areas of the Butterfly meadow to keep those critters happy.

The break for a drink and biscuits was especially welcome in this hot weather.

Finishing off it was a delight to see the various wild flowers blooming all around us ... Rosebay Willowherb, Oxford Ragwort, Knapweed, Creeping Buttercup, Birds-foot Trefoil and White Clover.

May 2015, Work Party

Dodging the odd shower, the Friends continued work clearing brambles in patches of the Butterfly meadow. Picture shows typical bramble plant trying to take over. It was great to see the difference to the slope at the end of the session.

April 2015, Work Party

Peacocks, Brimstones, Speckled Woods and Orange Tips were all seen admiring the work of a small band of volunteers removing bramble from the Butterfly Meadow. The sun shone and warmed the task. A break with juice and biscuits completed a worthwhile and enjoyable morning.

March 2015, Work Party

Old hands and new faces got together to clear away some brambles and tree saplings from the Butterfly Meadow. This is an important grassland area facing South with ants helping the ecosystem.

The weather was gloomy, but the Friends were in good cheer especially at "Break Time" when hot drinks and biscuits were partaken.

Quite a lot of progress was made and we plan to come back next month to continue the work.

February 2015, Work Party

On a blue sky day the Friends of Alexandra Park helped by Mark Evison, the Park Man
ager and Michael Conway of John O'Conner planted shrubs by the Park Information Centre. The idea was to help create a more attractive environment for both humans and wildlife. 
So what did we plant? Hypericum, honeysuckle (2 differenct types), pyracantha, cornus (also 2 types), mahonia, berberis, contoneaster and hawthorn.

Some holes were easy to dig, but part of the ground seemed to be mostly brick and rubble. So after finishing the job by topping off with wood chipping, we were very happy to sit down outside in the sun and relax with a cup of tea and cake.

Annual Litter Clear-up

No r
ain and with the sun trying to break through, the litter-pickers gathered on a Sunday in mid February. We ventured into the deepest brambles and retrieved the cans and bottles carefully lodged there.

A dozen or so bags of rubbish were collected, but the good news was that this was less trash per bramble patch than last year. The park is getting cleaner.

Refreshments were gratefully received by volunteers at the end of the session. Thanks to all who came.

January 2015, Work Party

The Friends came back to the Butterfly Meadow to make a start on removing some ivy and brambles on the eastern edge and to remove some of the tree saplings that were sprouting up all over the area.

Half way through the session, the sun came out to encourage the workers! We then paused and were very thankful for some hot apple juice and biscuits provided by Jane and Robyn.

We returned to finish off the ivy clearance and branch out into more sapling reduction before calling it a day.

December 2014, Work Party

A good work session in December finishing clearing saplings from the path by North View Road and growth from the base of the fruit trees alongside the Redston Field. Two trailer loads were removed by John O'Conner's and the difference can really be seen.

October 2014, Work Party

On a damp Monday morning a small, enthusiastic group of volunteers met up near the Redston Field. The aim was to trim back root stock growth and clear some of the vegetation below the fruit trees (mostly Cockspur thorn and Crab Apple).

Time was made for drink and biscuits and a discussion of future sessions...

John O'Conner's (the Park Contractor) provided the means to removed the pruned material - two truck loads.

A lot of a progress had been made and a side benefit was to open up the path somewhat to make it feel a safer place.

May 2014, Work Party

A Working Party met to continue to clear some of the brambles and saplings that are threatening to take over this valuable habitat.

We counted 10 different species of trees all trying to overwhelm the area.

We removed a considerable amount and were very grateful to pause half way through our session for a cool drink.....

March 2012,  Working Party

A number of Friends of Alexandra Park got together to clear the Butterfly Meadow of saplings.

See Butterflies for an explanation of the relationship between ants and butterflies, and why this work is helpful to butterflies.