Preparing Eaglesfield Pond for Winter

Friends' publicity flyer Side 1

The Friends of Eaglesfield Park would welcome help on what will probably be their final lilly pond tidying and pond dipping session of the year this Sunday (26th October) starting at 11.00am. Madeleine wrote with the details:

It is a long time since my last email, but I hope our blog at has kept you informed about FOEP activities and progress of the pond and surrounding meadow.  It is only 2 years since the pond and meadow were restored and already they are  providing a wonderful environment for the wildlife of our local area.
During the year we have continued with monthly pond/meadow maintenance, planting, tidying and pond dipping and have enjoyed some beautiful weather.  However Autumn is now upon us and we need to make sure all is prepared for Winter so that we can look forward to the new Spring.
Probably our last opportunity to prepare for Winter will be Sunday 26th October, between 11.00 am and 1.00 pm.
We would really welcome and appreciate any time you could spare to help us !    We are hoping to thin the pond vegetation and to rough rake the meadow/sow wildflower seeds (subject to whether or not the Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Dept have been able to cut the meadow).    Of course, “Weather Permitting”.
If you are able to join us, don’t forget to wear old clothes and wellies.   I am afraid we are unable to supply tools – could you kindly bring your own ?   Particularly useful would be garden rake (not lawn rake), spade/fork and don’t forget gloves.

The Lilly pond has come a long way in the last few years, from the overgrown eyesore with broken railings at the end of 2011 to the verdant wild-life friendly pond of today. Some of the photos showing the transformation are included below.

Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond October 2011
Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond October 2011
Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond March 2012
Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond March 2012
Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond May 2013
Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond May 2013

As well as the regular pond tidying and pond dipping sessions,  the Friends recently hosted a group of young volunteers from National Citizen Service (NCS) The Challenge for a day. The 15-17 year olds took on two tasks. One was gardening. Some of the park’s pathways were being obstructed by  low and overhanging branches of holly, hawthorn and acacia trees or narrowed by brambles and nettles: the volunteers cleared these to make the paths more easily passable. They also delivered copies of the leaflets shown at the top and bottom of this post to over a thousand homes around the park.

There are lots of pictures and some videos of the volunteers in action and the results of their work on the Friends’ blog.

Friends' publicity flyer Side 2


Shooters Hill Park Fêtes

Friends of Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival leaflet

Next weekend in Shooters Hill is going to be busy, with both the Friends of Shrewsbury Park and the Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Scheme holding their summer fêtes, as well as the opening of Severndroog Castle and a London Bubble play, Ishbel and I, at Castle Woods.

The Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival is on Saturday, 19th July, starting at 1.00pm. As well as their highly entertaining dog show, complete with competitions for agility, speed and catching biscuits, the Hawk and Hood School of Falconry will be there and there will be opportunities to learn how to safely observe the sun and to help judge the Friends’ photographic competition. There is still just about time to enter the competition, the deadline for entries is tomorrow, 16th July. The Friends web site has details of how to enter:

We invite you to capture images of the Park over the next few months. They can be dramatic, seasonal, humorous, exciting, tranquil, close ups or panoramic– with or without people and wildlife, colour or black and white.
The twelve most interesting photos will be chosen to be included in our 2015 calendar.
Please send your photos to with ‘photo comp’ as the subject. It would be very helpful if you also produce a suitable print if possible. Please include your name and a caption, and how best to be in touch with you.


Agility competition at Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival
Agility competition at Shrewsbury Park Summer Festival


EPNWS Community fete Poster

The following day, Sunday 20th July, the Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Scheme will be holding their Community Fête, which will be opened by the new leader of Greenwich Council and former local councillor Denise Hyland at 12.00 noon. The EPNWS Summer Newsletter described the afternoon’s events:

The Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Scheme (EPNWS) invites you and your family to an afternoon of fun on Sunday 20 July from 12noon to 4pm in Eaglesfield Park. Take part in the activities, wander around the stands and stalls and meet the people that help make our community great. This is the seventh year that the fete has been held to help promote the benefits of Neighbourhood Watch and foster community spirit. The fete will be opened by special guests, including the winner of the poster competition from Christ Church Primary School.
Some of the activities include a hula hoop demonstration, mini tennis, children’s story telling, face painting and a Punch and Judy show. The Shooters Hill Safer Neighbourhoods Police Team is pulling out all the stops for some fun and exciting activities, with the Greenwich Met Police teams on hand and music from the Police Cadets Drum Corp. You can buy home-made cakes and refreshments, and take part in our raffle to win a pair of tickets to see Disney on Ice in The Royal Borough of Greenwich hospitality box at the 02 on Christmas Eve. The day of fun finishes at the Shooters Hill Lawn Tennis Club which welcomes all the community to check out their new club facilities, with a BBQ and refreshments at the club house from 4pm to 7pm.

There will also be a chance to try some pond dipping in the Lilly Pond hosted by the Friends of Eaglesfield Park.

Let’s hope the good weather continues through the weekend. Last year the opening time for the EPNWS Community Fête was marked by torrential rain!

Stalls at Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Community Fête
Stalls at Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Community Fête

Eaglesfield Pond – Gardeners Wanted

Eaglesfield Gardeners at the Lilly Pond March 2012
Eaglesfield Gardeners at the Lilly Pond

The Friends of Eaglesfield Park would welcome help on Sunday (25th May) with their ongoing work in the wild flower meadow surrounding the Lilly Pond. Madeleine wrote with the details:

Regular Monthly Tidy up/Pond Dipping Sessions
The Friends of Eaglesfield Park (FOEP) continue working to ensure the pond and meadow are an environmentally friendly haven for wildlife which will also provide a peaceful setting for contemplation and wildlife observation for the local community and visitors to the park.

In less than 2 years since the official Opening of the Pond it is amazing how important the pond and meadow have become to our local wildlife and how much pleasure it provides the “human” visitor.

This Spring we are seeing an increase in  pond creatures – frogs, newts, insects, butterflies and birds and the POND DIPPING PLATFORM enables access for studying the pond life.  We would like to see more children (and adults!) take advantage of the Pond Dipping facilities and are looking at ways in which this can be achieved.

All this requires some kind of a regular maintenance programme. Last year the FOEP introduced a regular “Tidy Up/Pond Dipping Session” on the Last Sunday of the Month, 11 am – 1 pm and we would like to continue this, if possible.  Sadly this year on 30th March and 27th April there were few troops on the ground!  However the few of us accomplished quite a lot and made a difference.

We cleared various areas and planted Yellow Rattle plug plants.  These feed on grass roots and will hopefully reduce some of the grasses to enable more wild flower seeds to germinate.

It would be great though to see a few more gardeners, or litter pickers, or pond dippers!  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and hope more people will join us next time.

In order for the pond and meadow to flourish we cannot leave it completely to Nature!  We do need to ensure the pond is regularly cleaned and its plants are thinned out and the meadow is properly maintained, including removal of  invasive weeds, sowing seeds and planting wildflowers.  And , of course, we shouldn’t forget the litter picking of assorted empty drink cans and bottles!

The Friends plan to meet each month to work at the pond.  The dates for the rest of the year are: 25th May, 29th June, 27th July, 31st August, 28th September and 26th October (assuming  availability of Friends committee volunteers). I’ve added the dates to the events calendar over on the right.

As well as their work on the pond, the Friends have recently relaunched their web site and have joined twitter as @FOEP1.

Grand Opening of the Lilly Pond 15 June 2012
Grand Opening of the Lilly Pond 15 June 2012

Looking through my Flickr sequence of photographs showing how the pond has changed I’m impressed by how much the Friends have achieved in transforming the dried-up, overgrown historic Lilly Pond into what it is today. The pond goes back well over a hundred years. It is shown on the 1866 ordinance survey map in the corner of the pleasure gardens behind the original Bull Hotel, which stood in the area around where the water tower now stands. It’s great that it has been brought back to life.

The problem the Friends are facing at the moment is that the soil around the pond is really too fertile for a wild flower meadow, and vigorous grasses are able to out-compete the wild flowers. One solution to this is to reduce the garden’s fertility by removing the top layers of soil, but the Friends have chosen to try to reduce the vigour of the grasses using the hemi-parasitic meadow plant Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor). Yellow Rattle, or Cockscomb, is a partial parasite that gains some of its nutrients from the roots of neighbouring plants. Its roots lock on to the roots of surrounding grasses, taking their nutrients and restricting their growth, increasing the meadow’s biodiversity.

The Friends will be meeting at 11.00am on Sunday to tidy the area around the pond and continue the creation of the wild flower meadow. They’d love to see as many people as possible to help.

Mallards at Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond
Mallards at Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond

Eaglesfield Pond Tidy on Sunday

Eaglesfield Pond Tidy Poster

Madeleine from the Friends of Eaglesfield Park wrote with a reminder about next Sunday’s weeding and tidying session for the wild flower meadow around the pond – the first of their planned regular series of pond tidies for 2014:

It’s wonderful what a few days of sunshine can do ! The crocuses have made a fantastic display this year, but the poor daffodils seem to have struggled with the wet weather. We now need to turn our attention to the general maintenance of the pond and surrounding meadow. We really do need some help please.
Could you lend a hand on Sunday 30th March between 10.30 am – 1.30 pm.
We would like to:
– Clear general litter/debris/fallen branches
– Tidy the edge of the pond
– remove the particularly large invasive “weeds” (thistles, dock plants, fat hen and control nettles)
– dig over/weed a targeted area of the surrounding meadow ready for seeding and plug plants.
If we could achieve this it would be a great start to the season. Of course how much we achieve will not only depend on the number of volunteers, but also on the weather!
If you can help, could you please bring your own tools (sorry to ask) – e.g. garden spade, fork or rake and don’t forget to wear old clothes, wellies and gloves. If you have any “Builders’ Buckets” as well, they would be very useful !

I’m glad to see that some ducks have returned to the pond after the recent attack; a mallard pair were hiding in the reeds a few days ago, and one was sunbathing on the dipping platform yesterday. Let’s hope they are not disturbed again, and also that the weather is good for gardening on Sunday.

Mallard enjoying the sun at Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond
Mallard enjoying the sun at Eaglesfield Park Lilly Pond

Eaglesfield Park Ducks

Poster about attack on ducks in Eaglesfield Park
Poster about attack on ducks in Eaglesfield Park

Like me you may have been shocked to read the posters in Eaglesfield Park about an attack on the ducks in the Lilly Pond. Madeleine from the Friends of Eaglesfield Park wrote about the incident, and also sent details of their next tidying session at the pond. She wrote:

Criminal attack on Eaglesfield Park Ducks
We are sorry that our first news update for 2014 conveys details of a mindless, cruel and criminal act on wildlife in Eaglesfield Park.  I am sure that by now many people will have heard about the very upsetting incident or seen the notices posted around the pond.  The FOEP, like any decent people, are appalled that three adults (one with a child on his shoulders)  were observed throwing bricks at the ducks and then “flying” their bird of prey to attack the ducks, which were either killed or carried off.   However this criminal act was witnessed.
I have obtained further information and would like to assure you that this matter is being taken very seriously.  The Parks and Open Spaces Department of the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the Greenwich Met Police have been informed.   The latter are acting on information received and investigating  various leads.   FOEP will of course pursue the matter and keep you informed.
It has been suggested that a duck house/bird coop in the middle of the pond might provide an area of safety for ducks.  We have already looked into this in the past.  The advice we’ve so far had from wildlife agencies regarding a ‘duck island’ on the pond is that this can actually be detrimental to the other wildlife for a number of reasons including impact on water quality from duck faeces, bread left for ducks and ducks bringing in fish eggs on feet and feathers.  However due to the most recent events we are looking into this again and will review with the Parks Dept. and others what the best course of action will be. We will let you know as soon as we’ve done that.
In the meantime may we ask everyone visiting the park, local residents and clubs to help monitor wildlife security and to report any suspicious activity to the Police.
Lastly I would very much like to thank the person who took the trouble to inform the authorities and for providing posters regarding the incident and their very generous offer of a reward of £100.00.
Once again, I am sorry to begin with such upsetting news.

Ducks at Eaglesfield Pond
Ducks at Eaglesfield Pond

Everyone is welcome to join the Friends at their monthly meet-ups at the pond which re-start at the end of March:

Is Spring on its way?
We would all like to hope it is, and FOEP are now planning for the arrival of Spring!  We will start our monthly weeding, planting, seeding and tidying up on the last Sunday of the month, beginning March 30th between 10.30 – 1.30 pm.   We would be very grateful for any amount of time you could spare to help us.  It’s not all work – we do enjoy ourselves as well!     If you can join us, could please bring your own tools (spade, garden fork, hand digger, garden rake – sorry!)   Please make sure have suitable gloves and wellies.

In these wet winter days spring sometimes seems a long way off. Hopefully it will assert itself soon, and bring some ducks back to Eaglesfield Lilly Pond.

Ducks at Eaglesfield Pond
Ducks at Eaglesfield Pond

Happy Christmas

Robin at Woodlands Farm

Robins are still my favourite Christmas card picture, so here’s another one  from Woodlands Farm to accompany my seasons greetings, and best wishes for 2014. Also Madeleine from the Friends of Eaglesfield Park wrote asking me to thank everyone who has helped with the continued development of the park’s wildlife pond and meadow and to send their Seasonal Greetings.  She included an update about the pond and wild flower meadow.

Seasons Greetings from FoEP

This year the wildlife pond and meadow have flourished. Pond life is well established with water boatman, pond skaters, newts, dragonfly, damselfly, snails and many other creatures to be identified. Frogs are certainly enjoying the pond – we discovered dozens of “froglets” hidden in the long grasses during our tidy up sessions. The water lilies offer good cover and shelter for pond creatures and their flowers are attracting various insects.
The Pond Dipping Platform is providing a great deal of fun and enjoyment. It is wonderful to be able to “get up close” to nature and to hear children asking so many questions (not that we always have the answers – but we do have reference books!).
The meadow had quite a different appearance this year, displaying a greater abundance of tall grasses. Grasses are very important for many insects including beetles and bees. Wildflowers are appearing, and we were very pleased to see a strong patch of pink clover and yellow iris at the water edge, which have attracted numerous butterflies. There is still a lot to do, but it is now possible to see distinct features of the meadow habitat as to what is more suited to sunny/dry or shady/dry or, boggy areas around the pond. Very much a “learning curve”!
Next spring we will begin the seasonal work again. We are planning to reduce some of the tall grasses and will be planting appropriate wildflower plug  plants and sewing more seeds. We will keep you updated.
There is no doubt that the Pond Restoration has been worthwhile. We know that our local community value the wildlife pond and meadow and it is very pleasing to see that the wildlife is also now focusing on “the oasis on the hill”.
If you have any news or views about Eaglesfield Park, we are always very pleased to hear your comments. Also, do you have any photos of the ark, or pond area you would like to share, I would be pleased to receive them via my email address.

Songs on the Hill

Songs on the Hill Poster

Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Scheme have organised a seasonal singing celebration and community get-together again this year. It will be held in the new hall at Christ Church Primary School next Thursday, 5th December at 6:30pm, with the choirs of Plumcroft and Christ Church Schools singing seasonal songs.

Their announcement of the event gives the details:

You’re invited to take part in the Eaglesfield Park Neighbourhood Watch Scheme (EPNWS) Christmas carol concert on Thursday 5 December. Please put the date in your diary.
From 6:30 to 7:30pm, you can listen to the children from Christ Church and Plumcroft Primary Schools singing a selection of modern songs and traditional hymns in the new hall at Christ Church Primary School, Shooters Hill SE18 3RS. Please note, this is a venue change from previously advised.
You’ll also have a chance to join in and put to test your carol singing abilities!
Organised by the EPNWS, the event showcases the terrific partnership work of both primary schools and the importance of promoting community spirit.
Headteachers, parents, teachers, residents and scheme members will have a chance to get into the festive spirit, enjoy mince pies and mulled wine (at a small charge) and take part in the raffle.
Year five and six children from Plumcroft Primary School are making home made goodies for young people to enjoy including cookies, fairy cakes and truffles – all under the watchful eye of class teacher Helen Goodman.
This is the second time that EPNWS has run the event, and the scheme is hoping for an even better carol concert this year.
Jenny Penn, Principal Co-ordinator of the EPNWS said: “We’ve received so much positive feedback from last years event that I am delighted Headteacher Luigi Leccacorvi from Christ Church Primary School very kindly offered us to use of their new hall. The music teachers from both schools are pulling out all the stops to make it a terrific evening. I think everyone will be impressed and have fun. Also, the EPNWS welcomes the chance to continue our partnership work with our two local primary schools.”

Christ Church School's new building and the MUGA Court
Christ Church School’s new building and the MUGA Court

For many of those at the event this will be their first chance to see the new building at Christ Church, which includes the new hall and additional space for teaching. This makes a big difference to the old cramped teaching accommodation, which was well below government size guidelines, and also means that pupils no longer have to leave the school building for lunches, PE and games

It is more than eighteen months since the public inquiry into the use of common land for a new play area for the school, following which the planning inspector approved the development. The School decamped to portacabins at the Shooters Hill Post-16 Campus while the building work took place, returning to their extended home buildings for the start of this term.

The new buildings were commissioned and the schools hall blessed on the 12th November at a service presided over by the Bishop of Woolwich, the Right Rev’d Dr Michael Ipgrave. Schoolchildren were also addressed by the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Greenwich Councillor Angela Cornforth.

Last year’s Songs in the Park organised by the EPNWS was an enjoyable evening, though it was a little crowded in the Woolwich and Plumstead Bowls Club. There should be plenty of room this year.

If you miss this opportunity to visit Christ Church School, they will be holding their Christmas Fair on Saturday 7th December at 12:00pm.

The Bishop of Woolwich at the blessing of the new school hall
The Bishop of Woolwich at the blessing of the new school hall

Eaglesfield Pond Tidy on Sunday

Eaglesfield Pond Tidy Poster

The Friends of Eaglesfield Park are holding their final pond tidy session of the year on Sunday, 29th September, at 11.00am and would welcome any help. They are also concerned about the safety and health risks to children bathing in the pond, particularly the risk of Weil’s Disease, which can cause a range of nasty sysmptoms and even death. Madeleine from the Friends wrote:

A quick note to keep you up to date! Our Tidy Up Session on the 18th August was very successful. As most people will know, the meadow was very dense with the various grasses. This is probably due to the fact that top soil was used when the pond/meadow was reconstructed (wildflowers tend to prefer impoverished soil). However grasses are good for wildlife habitats, but we will need to control them and encourage the wildflowers.

During the tidy up we found dozens of “froglets” and many newts, water boatmen, pond skaters and spotted several large dragonflies. We were of course sad that our two “resident ducks” had been attacked by a fox and we are looking at the possibility of providing a “duck house”. However we need to research the negative effects this might have on the water quality of the pond.

We intend to plant more wildflower seeds (hopefully at the end of October) and also plug plants in October and March (weather permitting). The wildflowers plugs will include Feverfew, Globe Thistle, Tansy, Red Campion, Yellow Loosestrife, Yellow Rattle, Grim the Collier and Hedge Woundwort.

We are very concerned that some visitors to the pond area have been encouraging their dogs to use the pond, but more disturbingly adults have been seen actually lifting children over the fence so that they may swim in the pond. This may seem a good way to cool down, but it should be noted that ponds and rivers may contain Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease). Weil’s is a bacterial infection spread by animal urine. Many think Weil’s is spread only by rat’s urine but it can also come from fox, rabbit, cat and even hedgehog urine. It tends to be found in still, recreational water such as lakes and ponds, where water is not flowing freely.

Whilst relatively few cases of Weil’s infection have been reported, Friends of Eaglesfield Park are very mindful of the risk of infection during pond dipping activities. We offer advice on health and safety issues and provide disposable latex gloves and antibacterial hand wash for anyone taking part in pond dipping or pond/meadow maintenance.

I would also like to add my own comments – even if there were no risk of bacterial infection, swimming in the pond is not only irresponsible and dangerous, but it will also damage the wildlife environment of the pond and meadow we are endeavouring to create.

Please support the Friends on Sunday.

I notice the the Green Flag awarded to the park by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy has now been erected. That’s excellent news, but I’m not sure about where it has been placed – it seems a bit obtrusive to me. What do you think?

Eaglesfield Park's Green Flag
Eaglesfield Park’s Green Flag

Eaglesfield Pond Tidy on Sunday

Pond Tidy Poster

The Friends of Eaglesfield Park will be hard at work next Sunday, 18th August, tidying and weeding at the Lilly Pond starting at 11.00am. The pond will also be open for some pond dipping. They would welcome any assistance with the tidying, as Madeleine from the Friends writes:

We really would welcome your help and support to ensure that the pond and wildlife meadow continue to flourish.  If you can spare some time to help with weeding or litter picking it would be very much appreciated.  We know from comments received from visitors to the park that the pond area provides a wonderful focal point and is much valued by the local community.  It is also attracting a wide range of wildlife.    I like to think of it as “the little oasis on the hill” and believe there is so much potential for further development.  It would be really terrible if everything became overgrown and neglected.

We are meeting Sunday 18th August between 11 am and 1pm to carry out pond and meadow tidying up.  Could you join us, whatever time you can spare will  be helpful?

Pond Dipping will also be available, we have the equipment – so bring the family !

The Friends work in the park was recently recognised with the award of a Green Flag by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.

Lilies on Eaglesfield Pond
Lilies on Eaglesfield Pond

Green Flag for Eaglesfield Park

Eaglesfield Park
Eaglesfield Park

Congratulations to the Friends of Eaglesfield Park! It was announced yesterday that environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy had awarded the park a Green Flag, a national award which recognises and rewards the best green spaces in the country. Eaglesfield is one of  1266 parks and greens spaces in the UK that have received the award in 2013. This included 11 parks in the Royal Borough of Greenwich: Avery Hill Park, Charlton Park, Eaglesfield Park, East Greenwich Pleasaunce, Eltham Park South, Fairy Hill Park, Horn Park, Maryon Park, Sutcliffe Park, The Tarn and Well Hall Pleasaunce.

In addition Plumstead Common Nature Reserve and The Slade Ponds, both looked after by the Plumstead Common Environment Group, were amongst the country’s 182 sites which received a Green Flag Community Award. The Community Award recognises high quality green spaces managed by voluntary and community groups.

The awards have been running since 1996 and are seen as the “benchmark against which our parks and green spaces are measured”. They are decided by expert judges who assess the parks against a set of eight criteria following a site visit. The criteria include the park being a welcoming place and being healthy, safe and secure and also that it has a Marketing Strategy and a Management Plan. The Community Award is assessed against similar criteria, but excluding marketing.

The Green Flag award is well-deserved recognition of all the hard work that the Friends of  Eaglesfield Park have put in over the last few years.

The Lilly Pond March 2012
Friends of Eaglesfield Park working at the Lilly Pond