Morden Hall Park Nature Group
Morden Hall Park's Nature Group is made up of adult volunteers who are passionate about nature. Read on for more information about the various activities we offer in this historic green space.
Do you want to find out more about wildlife found in Morden Hall Park or, do you already know a lot about nature in the park and want to share your information with other like-minded people?
Morden Hall Park Nature Group is a group of National Trust volunteers who get together to find out more and share knowledge about the park’s plants and animals.
The Group aims to monitor, protect and promote nature conservation and biodiversity in Morden Hall Park. Each year an Annual Report is produced detailing our results and observations from the year’s activities.
Regular meetings take place each third Thursday of the month in the Snuff Mill Learning Centre, discussing recent sightings and surveys of the park and sharing skills.
- Monthly meetings open to all where we discuss activities, share skills and information about nature in the park and discuss how we can work to ensure diversity and conservation of our fantastic local park. Some meetings include talks from visiting guest speakers working with wildlife in the local area.
- Surveying nature in the park, including for birds, invertebrates, amphibians, mammals and plants.
- Training and skills sharing on a variety of subjects related to nature conservation.
Each year we undertake a survey of all of the park’s living things for our Morden Hall Park BioBlitz event. Along with visiting experts we find, identify and recording as much as possible over two days. Everything we find is documented and passed on to local and national wildlife databases.
The park is a great place for bird watching. The variety of habitats found in the park ensures that the site is very productive for birds. The wetland area sees regular records of specialist species such as snipe, water rail, reed bunting and Cetti’s and reed warblers, while the river often affords great views of kingfisher, grey wagtail, little grebe, cormorant, Egyptian goose and wintering little egret and teal.
Warblers such as common whitethroat, chiffchaff and blackcap breed in the scrub and woodland areas (with chiffchaffs often also recorded in winter), with other woodland species including nuthatch, treecreeper, great spotted and green woodpeckers and stock doves. Winter visitors include good numbers of siskins and redwings, with occasional redpolls and fieldfares.
Raptors are frequently seen - in particular, kestrel, sparrowhawk and peregrine - while red Kite and buzzard are occasional visitors. Grey herons breed in in the park and are present throughout the year. Any visitor is also sure to see the ubiquitous ring-necked parakeets; many breed in the park, while early mornings see the spectacle of hundreds flying through from their roosting sites.
An early morning visit will also reveal that the park has healthy populations of many of the commoner species - wrens and robins are abundant, and there are times when great tits and blue tits seem to be everywhere.
The park also attracts a range of scarcer visitors: recent records include yellow-browed warbler, firecrest, brambling, hawfinch and black and common redstart.
The park also offers excellent opportunities for photography, particularly as many of the birds present are accustomed to seeing people around.
All year round members of the Nature Group survey the birds, with our regular bird survey on the first Sunday of the month, starting at the Kenley Road Gate near the wetlands, at 7.30am April to September inclusive, and at 8.00am from October to March inclusive.
Individual members also carry out a monthly count as part of the national BTO-organised Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS).
Butterflies, riverflies and other invertebrates
The park supports a host of insect and other invertebrate life. Grasshoppers and crickets can be heard 'singing' in the meadows and dragonflies and damselflies dart around the river. Invertebrates are recorded annually at our BioBlitz and Meadows Day event, and moth trapping with lights at night takes place several times through the year.
Each week from April to September we survey butterflies along a set route in the park, known as a transect. In early springs or later summers additional recording could take place in late March or early October. We follow the methodology set by Butterfly Conservation, which is the organisation we submit the results to. For example, transect walks should only be carried out in warm (13°C or more) and at least bright weather. The minimum criteria are 13-17°C with at least 60% sunshine, or over 17°C and not raining. We meet for this survey on the bridge by the Snuff Mill Learning Centre at 2pm on Sundays.
Morden Hall Park Nature Group is one of the conservation groups helping to monitor the River Wandle as part of the Riverfly Partnership Initiative. Volunteers are catch, count and record mayflies, caddisflies and other freshwater invertebrates, which is one way to monitor pollution levels in the river. We record these key species once a month and data is shared with the Environment Agency so that their experts can investigate if we detect significant changes in numbers.
In Morden Hall Park the survey is carried out on second Saturday of every month (as long as it falls before the second Sunday to fit in with other surveyors also using the same method on the River Wandle). We meet at 11am on the main stream of the Wandle beside the White Bridge.
In the spring and summer we daily trap and record and release the critically endangered European Eel as part of a monitoring project with ZSL.
The Nature Group sometimes leads walks around Morden Hall Park and Watermeads Reserve, looking for seasonal changes.
The Nature Group runs regular species surveys and walks to record the wildlife that lives in the park, as well as holding monthly open meetings and other exciting events. Contact us to find out more about the group's meaningful work and how you can contribute.