Commons Update

Beverley Brook

Following the recent Beverley Brook restoration work, which was completed towards the end of February 2019, it’s great to see just how quickly the Brook and the surrounding area has begun to recover.  To help keep visitors to the area better informed about the works, two notices prepared by  the South East Rivers Trust have been installed, and there is also a new notice board close to the Brook Cottage Bridge which links the Commons to the Merton Extension Fields.


(Click on the images to enlarge)


With many sections of the river bank now covered in vegetation there have been a number of welcome wildlife sightings.  These have included a Little Egret, Grey Herons, a pair of Mandarin ducks with five ducklings, a Mute swan, a group of twenty Banded Demoiselles, a few Large Red and Blue-tailed Damselfies and four Beautiful Demoiselles which is believed to have been the first record of this species on the Commons since 1994.

The woody material in the water is already changing the nature of the bed of the Brook, creating perfect gravelly habitats for fish to spawn.  The downside however is that they do collect rubbish that gets washed downstream from the head of the Brook at Worcester Park.  

Our staff and volunteers have been involved in two organised litter picking events to help clear the rubbish with the first event held on Saturday 4th May with 15 volunteers from the Geo-cache community donned their waders and spent four hours on this task.

The second event was held on Wednesday 29th May and this involved volunteers from the South East Rivers Trust and a group of Wimbledon Common volunteers. In total, 26 volunteers spent four hours removing litter from the brook and by the end of the morning, 42 full black bags of litter had been collected as well as 1 bicycle frame, 1 golf bag, 3 plastic road cones, 1 wooden pallet and numerous balls of varying sizes.

As plastic pollution in the river and marine environments is such a major concern, these litter picks have enabled us to collect a huge amount of waste materials that would otherwise find themselves flowing into the Thames and potentially on into the sea.  But as the Brook does not stand still, neither does the litter and so this will be an on-going job.  If you are interested in donning a pair of waders and helping out, please do contact our Conservation & Engagement Officer, Peter Haldane.

Oak Processionary Moth Caterpillar

Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) Caterpillar is a tree pest which was accidentally introduced to a site in west London in 2005 through imported tree stock.  Despite an extensive programme of control, OPM has unfortunately spread from its initial outbreak area to include many Greater London boroughs as well as Surrey and the Home Counties. 

OPM has been managed on Wimbledon and Putney Commons since 2011 and whilst numbers remained very low for a few years, survey teams are now finding an increasing number each year. 

The caterpillars are a potential threat to the health of oak trees, people and animals and particular care must be taken to ensure that contact with the caterpillars and their nests is avoided.  The caterpillars are covered in thousands of tiny hairs which contain an irritating substance called thaumetopoein and it is important that no skin contact is made with the caterpillars or nests as this can result in skin rashes and, less commonly, sore throats or breathing difficulties.

What should you do if you find some OPM caterpillars?

The advice from the Forestry Commission is to not approach or touch the nests or caterpillars and, in particular, keep children and pets away from the Oak trees.  If you are able, do please keep a note of the location and advise the Ranger's Office by telephone - 020 8788 7655 or by e-mail

OPM survey teams are continuing to work on the Commons and our fully trained staff will begin nest removal in late June once the caterpillars have started to pupate and form nests.

Litter Picking

In addition to litter along the Beverley Brook, over the past few months, we have also been very fortunate in having the assistance of  organised litter picking sessions carried out by volunteers from RSPCA, The Wimbledon Branch of the Women’s Guild and other groups of local friends.

Including these sessions amongst the huge number of hours that are regularly provided by volunteers involved with the Commons Adopt an Area litter picking initiative we feel the Commons have never looked so good.

There is however still more that can be done and with summer almost upon us, any additional help with this important task will be more than welcome.

If you are interested in joining the team of litter picking volunteers, please contact our Conservation and Engagement Officer, Peter Haldane, for more information.

Putney Lower Common                   

Hedgehogs - To help raise awareness of the ongoing need to protect Hedgehogs in our local area. On Saturday 11th May we were very pleased to host a Hedgehog Afternoon which was provided by volunteers from the local SW15 Hedgehog Group.

With activities that included workshops, crafts and presentations, approximately 100 people attended this event.

If you would to become involved with this group and help our local hedgehogs to thrive please email the group’s organiser (Jackie) at

Also, if you would to meet Jackie and her team, they will have an information stall and be providing a talk at our forthcoming BioBlitz event on Sunday 23rd June 2019 - click here  for more information.


New Granite Kerb Stone

Also at Putney Lower Common, we have installed a new granite kerb stone at the end of Commondale,   

With the grass area at the side of the road becoming damaged and the log butt constantly being dislodged by turning lorries, Bill Rowland, Head Ranger at Putney Lower Common, hopes that this will prevent any further damage.

The area will be re-seeded in due course.  



Dragonflies and Damselflies

One of our volunteer experts, Bill Budd, recently posted on our Facebook Nature Notes page:

The slightly rejuvenated Bluegate Pond eventually revealed some Dragonflies today. Four-spotted Chasers were enthusiastically mating (in mid-air!) and egg-laying, along with this Emperor Dragonfly. Also the first Emerald Damselflies have emerged, the male not yet having acquired its blue pruinescence.


(Click picture to enlarge)


Call for Stag Beetles Sightings

Our Conservation & Engagement Officer, Peter, would be delighted if you could let him know about any sightings of Stag Beetles this year. 

One of our rarer beetles, the Commons are a hotspot for them in the South East and, indeed, are the reason for our Special Area of Conservation (SAC) designation.  

If you see any in or around the Commons, please e-mail