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.
Become a Friend here - buy our book "A History Of Alexandra Park" in our shop
Our normal activities include:
Organising walks and talks about trees, bats, fungi, moths, insects, birds and the history of Alexandra Park, and conservation work.
Sending a newsletter every month to all our members.
Opening the Park Visitor Centre, where you can find leaflets, chat to volunteers and find activities for children.
Members' History Walk
Saturday 25th March from 11:00am to Noon
Football in Alexandra Park and nearby. Vampires and Railway Carriages?
More information and meeting place will be sent out to members.
Not yet a member? Yes £5 household/year. Follow this link.
Members' Walk: Secrets of the Nature Conservation Area
Saturday 15th April from 11:00am to Noon
We will take a gentle stroll around the Nature Conservation Area looking at few of the hidden wonders of the area. Trees, flowers, streams and, with a bit of sun, butterflies will all be on offer. WARNING this walk is very likely to be quite muddy. Meeting place information will be emailed out to members.
For those not yet members, it's not too late. Join here - only £5/year.
Monday 17th April from 7:45pm
Listen to bats through our bat detectors and hear how they hunt and avoid getting tangled in your hair. Vampire sightings are unlikely.
Booking details to follow.
Saturday 22nd April from 2pm to 3:30pm or so...
Clifford Davy will be leading us on a voyage of discovery. You may think that fungi are only around in autumn, this walk will prove you wrong...... Booking details to be posted soon on this website.
Conservation Work Party
Tuesday 25th April from 10:00am to 12:30pm
With a bit of good luck, we should start seeing some butterflies while we are working.... Any flowers out yet here?
Again we will be battling the brambles, so bring secateurs and gardening gloves if you have them, though we have spares to lend. No special skills needed. Refreshments will be provided. Meet in the Anthill Meadow.
Need information on location or anything else email us at AllyParkN10@gmail.com
Art in the Park
Thursday 27th April from 10:00am to 11:30am
This is chewing gum art in the park by local artist Ben Wilson. Maybe not what we will be doing this week, but....
Monthly informal meet ups for anyone who would like to spend time enjoying looking closer at nature and making new friends.
Do you fancy getting more creative in the new year? Spending more time relaxing in the park through the seasons? Our monthly Art in the Park group, hosted by local artist Katy Fattuhi, is open to anyone who would like to join. We have people who sketch, paint and photograph. No experience is necessary, but
To quote one of the group: 'What could be nicer than sitting in a gorgeous place, in sunshine, drawing with such lovely companions!'
Sessions are free, but you do need to book a place and ideally bring along some materials and something to sit on (if this is not possible please speak to Katy as basics can be provided).
Each month we meet in a different part of the park and enjoy noticing what is happening in nature at that time of year. Look out for future dates on the monthly Newsletter.
If you would like to find out more about the sessions or book a place for Thursday please email email@example.com
Spring Tree Walk
Saturday 29th April from 11am to 12:30pm
Adrian will lead us on a Spring Tree Walk on a very similar route to his Winter Tree Walk to show the contrasting aspect of the park as the trees come to life. Picture left shows the male catkins of the English Oak.
Meeting place details to follow shortly.
RECENT EVENTS IN THE PARK
Concert for International Women's Day: 4th March
As part of their aim of celebrating women in brass banding during this anniversary year, the band decided to commission a new piece of music, An Exhilaration of Light by a contemporary music composer, Angela Slater and performed in the park to great acclaim. An extract of the musical performance.
Bryophyte Walk: 4th March
Professor Jeff Duckett led us on another exploration of the world of mosses and liverworts. The walk started well with a liverwort, Metzgeria furcata with the enthusiastic group keen to see these bryophytes. It was a great to hear Jeff's explanation on how the mosses and liverworts cope with drying out.
We spent a large amount of time in The Grove with one leaning ash tree providing an especially good number of species including the moss, Orthotrichum affine and the liverwort, Frullania dilatata.
One moss found was later in the walk is known for growing after fires called Funaria hygrometrica.
A full list of all the species found was provided by Jeff and can be found here.
More pictures from the walk can be found here.
Winter Tree Walk: 25th February
As Adrian pointed out to about 30 of us, the trouble with trees in winter is that most have no leaves. So we have to look for other clues. If the twigs are opposite, this narrows the options down to maple, ash, spindle, horse-chestnut, elder or dogwood (for more details see the autumn tree walk in the November 2022 newsletter]. We saw horse-chestnut, whose twigs are upturned at the end and tipped with a fat brown bud; ash, whose buds are black; and maple, which still had a few of last year’s seeds attached. Other trees we saw included hawthorn, which is thorny and leafs early; hornbeam, which has spreading branches and smooth bark on a fluted trunk; lime, which has red buds; oak, with several buds clustered at the tip; and poplar, which has diamond-shaped marks on the trunk and quite often grows at an angle.
Come to the follow-up walk on 29th April to see the many changes that happen in just two months.
Art in the Park Group: 23rd February
The Boating Lake is a good place for drawing at this time of year, as the benches provide plenty of ready-made seating for us and the weekday mornings are peaceful. It meant we got to enjoy what all the birds were doing – some brave participants even attempted to draw them. Others focused on the pollarded willows that edge the lake (picture by Jenni Slinn). We also had a new participant who hadn’t drawn since she was at school many years ago. So don’t be nervous if you fancy trying a bit of art again – do please join us at a future session. All are welcome!
Conservation Work Party: 21st February
There were 16 of us at February’s work party, a really good turnout, which meant much was achieved.
We tackled an area of shrubs in The Grove that had become overrun with brambles, holly, and saplings, preventing light penetration to the wooded area beyond. It was hard work, especially dealing with the brambles and some dead conifer branches. We also ‘artfully’ pruned the evergreen shrubs in the peninsula part of the bed, lowering the height, again to help with light reaching the woodland floor beyond. All the leavings then had to be crammed into a small trailer, which was achieved in the end, with much sweaty effort. A very good job done by all.
Planting appropriate shrubs in the bare areas created, to provide good cover and food for birds, was suggested - to be followed up.
Before we started work one of the birders amongst us pointed his binoculars at the pond in the spinney and spotted redwings bathing there. Nice to know they are still around. The spinney is also the only place in the Park where a drift of snow drops can be seen, a lovely, cheering sight at the tail end of winter.
Spring Litter Clear-up: 18th February
An overcast day and a cold wind didn’t deter 18 enthusiastic volunteers wielding their litter pickers with gusto to dig this mountain of rubbish out of the undergrowth in the woodland and ditches at the eastern end of the park.
Brilliant Birds: 12th February
‘Brilliant birds’ indeed – the walk lived up to its name. Tom Bauss led the walk he had devised for children between the ages of four and ten. Seventeen children and their parents gathered to hear Tom chat about, and identify, birds on the Boating Lake. He gave out sheets with pictures of birds likely to be seen. A variety of water fowl were tempted to come close when offered a mix of seeds, peas and lettuce that Tom and family had prepared – far better food for birds than bread, as Tom explained. The ducks, tufted ducks and pochards could be seen swimming underwater to catch the sinking seeds. The very distant view of a peregrine on the BBC mast didn’t impress the children much until Tom told them that it could fly at 300 km/hr.
Orchard Pruning: 9th February
On Thursday 9th Feb, a small group of Friends worked with Reuben, one of the O’Conners team, to prune the fruit trees in the Railway Orchard. This is annual task undertaken by the Friends, each of the two orchards are pruned in alternate years (Springfield Orchard next year). Reuben is the expert guide who has the experience and eye to turn pruning into an art form. The benefits of pruning are to cut out weak growth, thin out central growth, allowing sunlight to reach all fruiting branches, and improve fruiting.
You may notice that the fruit trees now have permanent labels, identifying each trees, and paid for by the Friends.
Members' Nature Walk: 5th February
We met on a very sunny afternoon to walk round the Boating Lake, looking at birds on one side of us and plants on the other. There was the swan from Rickmansworth happily eating seed provided by a very excited little boy, along with Canada and greylag geese. Plenty of mallards and three larger versions of them, which turned out to be mallards crossed with farm ducks. A black-headed gull in its winter plumage (black dot behind eye) helpfully sat on top of the pedalo next to a black-headed gull in its breeding plumage (black head). In terms of plants, we teased out the differences between deceptively similar berberis and cotoneaster, took pleasure in smelling the sweetly scented viburnum and enjoyed the reddish glow of the bark of the Scots pine.
Big Garden Birdwatch: 29th January
A cold, but successful day for the Big Garden Birdwatch including a walk led by Bob Husband of the RSPB London NW Group.
The group from RSPB were very pleased to see 2 peregrines on the BBC mast, but probably their highlight as well for other locals was to see two firecrests in the Blandford Hall Area - we were led there by local bird expert Marcus. We also had excellent views of a kestrel flying just over our heads below the Rose Garden. Nothing rare on the Boating Lake; we had tufted ducks together with shovelers, mallards and pochards. Greylag and Canada geese, moorhens and coots and a highlight for the locals was to see a mute swan. The swan had been ringed follow this link for some details.
Some of the other notable spots included redwings and jays. We also heard nuthatch, stock dove and great spotted woodpeckers.
Some more pictures from the day.
Fuller report (with numbers!) from RSPB NW London Group can be read here.
Art in the Park: 26th January
Finally, the group regulars managed a regular group session! Some unexpected drizzle almost spoilt the fun initially, but after that we all enjoyed a bit of wintry, grey, peaceful time observing the bare tree forms on the South Slope. We’ll admit fingers were getting cold as the hour drew to a close but we agreed that, so long as you have your layers on, drawing outside in January is actually very enjoyable.
Marvellous Moths: 25th January
Committee member Gerry Rawcliffe relaunched our evening talks after the Covid interruption. He set out to convince a well-attended meeting that moths are superior to butterflies from just about every perspective. Moths can be bigger (the death’s-head moth has a wingspan of 13 cm); brighter (such as the narrow-bordered five-spot burnet pictured); more bizarre (the caterpillar of the lobster moth is worth googling); and more diverse in terms of sizes and shapes. Gerry also gave an overview of how to study and record these fascinating creatures and presented the relatively little we know of the park’s moths: the list stands at 253, a mere 10% of the total British list of just over 2,500!
Conservation Work in The Grove: 19th January
We managed a really good morning’s work removing thick, thorny, woody old bramble leaders from the shrubs and trees at the edge of the grassy area near the Grove Café (with committee member Robyn’s red hat visible in the shrubbery). Untangling and pulling out the bramble leaders was hard work and a challenge, but once done the greenness of the shrubs was revealed. Half of a pollarded holly went, too, all to allow more light into the area behind and therefore encourage grass and flowers to grow. What made the morning was working hard as a team, in a sunny spot, on a crisply cold winter’s day, the twitter of birds all around us – all very purposeful, pleasant and convivial.
While we were in the Grove, two oaks at the entrance to the Anthill Meadow were being crown reduced, to allow more sunlight onto the meadow, all the better for wildflowers to grow and yellow field ants and other insects to flourish.
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