Inside Croydon is delighted to team up with noted local conservationist Peter Alfrey for our next guided walk, a midsummer wildlife ramble, on the morning of Sunday, June 23.
We will spend a couple of hours exploring one of the wildest places within sight of Croydon town centre and the Purley Way, and with a bit of luck we will manage to see a conservation Red List species of bird, and encounter a multitude of plants to delight amateur botanists.
This is a free event open to all Inside Croydon readers, but places on this wildlife walk are strictly limited, so bookings will be taken on a first-booked, first-served basis, with priority given to those who are paid-up subscribers to this website.
Our walk will explore a local nature reserve which has rich bio-diversity, an example of chalk downland which has been reclaimed from former industrial use in the 20th century, and also offers unspoilt ancient woodland, and even a glimpse of evidence of an ancient Roman road, as well as a more recent piece of transport history.
On the walk, mostly within sight (and sound) of the busy A23, you’ll encounter typical chalk grassland species such as common quaking grass, wild carrot, common and greater knapweed, the legally protected greater yellow rattle, and bird’s-foot-trefoil, the favourite food of the (not-so) common blue butterfly.
Birdlife where we are going is abundant, so bring the binoculars and cameras as we could encounter buzzards and kestrels, great spotted woodpeckers in the woods, blackcap and chiffchaff, and perhaps even whitethroat.
Where we are going is also home to wasp spiders and some impressive examples of the Roman (or edible) snail.
But the stars of the show should be ground-nesting meadow pipits and skylarks, which are able to live at this site because of the absence of any agricultural disturbance during the nesting season, and careful maintenance of the site over many years by local conservationists.
The skylark is a Red List bird, that is, it is a bird of conservation concern due to the dramatic decline in its population, despite its status as a symbol and sound of the English summer, as captured musically by composer Ralph Vaughan-Williams.
The skylark is justifiably famous for the length and clarity of the song flight, flying up to 150 feet above the ground, singing continuously, before stooping to the ground, still singing. Our visit may be a little late for the breeding season and such mating displays, but fingers-crossed…
Our expert guide for the morning is Peter Alfrey (pictured right), who has turned his passion for conservation into an award-winning environmental management business which has worked on projects both in Britain and Portugal.
Alfrey is a regular contributor to the leading European birding periodicals and other nature media, as well as having volunteered for local environment development groups. He is the author of The Birds of Beddington Farmlands.
Our leisurely stroll will only take us two or three miles, but you should nevertheless ensure that you are properly equipped for an English summer’s morning – which could mean sun cream and hats, or water-proofs. Good walking shoes or boots are essential, as we will be off-road most of the time, and please bring some water.
Details of the meeting point will be emailed to all particpants accepted for the walk in the week before June 23, though you should expect a setting-off time of 10am. The starting and finishing points will be accessible by public transport.
The walk is not suitable for children under five years of age, and those aged five to 16 need to be accompanied by adult. We’d recommend and welcome family groups to take part in what hopefully will be an eye-opening stroll through a site of nature’s abundance that’s right on our urban Croydon doorstep.
To register your name (and anyone who might accompany you) for the Inside Croydon ramble on June 23, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, with the words “Midsummer Wildlife Ramble” in the subject field. Include your name and daytime contact number in the body of the email.
Remember, places are limited and will be allocated on a first-booked-first-accepted basis. As stated previously, priority in bookings will be given to Patrons of Inside Croydon.
For £5 per month, Patrons provide vital financial support for the award-winning, campaigning journalism which Inside Croydon delivers daily.
For more information about how you can become an Inside Croydon Patron, please click here.
In taking part in this walk, participants agree that they do so at their own risk, and no liability is taken by Inside Croydon, its publishers, or Peter Alfrey.
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