Sarah Woodside: To hear the birds sing come and visit Wormholt Park

A guest post from Sarah Woodside of Friends of Wormholt Park

wormholt1Wormholt Park is a small Edwardian Park located between the Uxbridge Road and the A40 in the northwest of Shepherd’s Bush – even some of the locals don’t know of its existence but it is a much needed green space in what is becoming an increasingly built-up part of West London. The many residents who do use it include myriad dog walkers, families, the elderly and groups of friends who gather for picnics on the grass.

In its heyday the park had a bowling green, fountains, herbaceous beds and a  secluded quiet garden but over the years it has become rather run down.

What it still has, however, are two free tennis courts and some spectacular mature trees – oak, poplar, plane and conifers amongst the others – plus a large variety of mixed, flowering shrubs and open areas of lawn.

In this recent hot weather, the shade from the trees has provided welcome relief for many residents baking in stifling flats and back to back housing; the large grassed areas, usually teeming with scampering dogs and small, shoeless kids who like to feel the grass between their toes, is full of sunbathers and people exhausted by the heat.

wormholt2Amazingly in such an urban setting, Wormholt Park has a thriving wild bird population including breeding Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Long tailed tit, Great tit, Blue tit, Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Dunnock and Wood pigeon.

In this year’s RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch only 0.009% of Britain’s smallest bird, the Goldcrest, presented across the whole of Greater London (which includes the huge Royal Parks) but Wormholt Park has its very own breeding pair, attracted by the yews and conifers… What a delightful privilege.

House sparrows and Starlings, both on the critical list in England; Pied wagtails and the occasional Song Thrush (also endangered) use the park together with the jolly, bright green Ring-necked Parakeets. In Spring, the birdsong is so intense one could almost be in the countryside and it is crucial that we retain the trees and bushes that these birds need when the imminent redevelopment of the park begins.

Wormholt Park will soon be getting ‘a make-over’ tied in with the erection of the new Health Centre and Apartment Block on its Eastern side. Locals with children eagerly anticipate the new playgrounds, which are long overdue, but the loss of the two dedicated tennis courts is hugely unpopular – the cricket nets are being sacrificed too.

No-one wants the ambiance of this traditional park, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2011, to be lost. Set in the Wormholt Conservation Area it needs to retain its historical place and still be a green lung in this polluted part of London; it is our escape from the Cityscape and a rest from the urban environment. For many local children this is the only easily accessible place that they can be close to Nature.


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