Dave Dawson’s natural history notes for 24th April 2015:-
Although the early flowers, like the Lesser Celandine, Whitlow Grass, Sweet Violet, Snowdrop, Blackthorn and Daffodils are over, now is the peak time for spring flowers in the park. Among the common species, Dandelions, Daisies, and Red and White Dead-nettles are at their peak, and May blossom and Cow Parsley are just starting. In Horse Close Wood the Dog’s Mercury is still in flower, but the highlights are the green flowers of our native aroid lily, Lords and Ladies, and the Native Bluebells scattered throughout, but with a mass show in the centre of the eastern end of the wood where an informal path has recently been formalised. Around the edges of the wood, and elsewhere in the park, most of the Bluebells are the garden hybrid. In the brook, Pendulous Sedge is in flower. An interesting finding today was Lesser Chickweed in the grassy strip between the path and boundary fence beside the ex-bowling green. According to Burton’s Flora of the London Area, this species is rare, but it’s easily missed, as it’s tiny and has inconspicuous green flowers. This year the Cuckoo Flowers have been spared the mower. These can be seen in the grassy bank at the corner of the tennis courts near the Home Park Road entrance. Just around the corner from there are the white handkerchief flowers of two Dove Trees. Resident birds are breeding, which brings Starlings, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes and Mistle Thrushes to venture out onto the grassland to collect food for their young, then commuting back to their nests. The residents have less time now for song. House Sparrows breeding in the Bowls Pavillion are collecting food from the trees beside the Lake. Stock Doves are still singing in both woodlands, and can be seen feeding on the bonfire area, presumably on grass seed. Of the migrants, there are two Blackcaps singing in Horse Close Wood, but no Chiffchaff this morning. The winter birds have departed the Lake, leaving some 50 Mute Swans, 45 Coots and 40 Tufted Ducks as the most numerous species, but four Pochards remain. Coots, Grebes and at least one swan are incubating eggs, but most of the swans appear to be youngsters, not yet ready to breed. Canada Geese disperse to breed and so occur in minimal numbers in April, nevertheless the six birds this morning was a remarkably low figure; perhaps the Golf Course are prevailing at last?