Friday, 5 June 2009

Urban wildlife in the south east

One of the things that constantly delights and surprises me about London is the amount of wildlife that can be found even in the depths of its urban sprawl. My favourite places to spot the wild side of the capital include Deptford Creek, Brookmill Park, the cycle routes along the Thames and the Regent's Canal, and a combination of our best-kept local secrets; Russia Dock Woodlands and Stave Hill Ecological Park over in Rotherhithe.

I occasionally stray down here on my bike for an hour's ride if it's a sunny evening, or pass through while tracing the Thames from Tower Bridge down to Deptford. Russia Dock Woodlands meanders between the houses, with paths leading off in all directions making it seem something of a maze and giving it a really secluded feeling. On the route of the central path is a series of pools, each with its own character, and further along it opens up into a large meadow area surrounded by trees, where families come to picnic and play games. It always feels oddly remote and otherworldly in comparison to the housing estates and roads that surround it, and I always find plenty to look at and ponder while passing through.

It seems that the wildlife in these parks is much more diverse than even I could have imagined - local resident Andie Byrnes has been keeping a blog about the area for a year now, and it has really opened my eyes as to how much more there is to see.

Andie has many, many fantastic photos which will have you itching to get down there for a visit if you haven't been already. She posts wonderful pics of the flora and fauna (mammals, birds and insects including butterflies and moths) along with identification information for those she has managed to pinpoint, links to articles containing local news or relevant wildlife information, and updates on residents' attempts to tackle anti-social behaviour and crime in the parks.

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