Commons Update July 2020

Despite the country easing out of lockdown over the last few months and travel restrictions having been lifted, the Commons have continued to be a vital resource for the local, and sometimes not so local, community.  

We are delighted that so many new visitors have discovered the Commons on their doorstep and have found respite in exploring areas they may not have ventured into before. 

With the glorious weather we experienced in the early days of lockdown, the Commons saw an unprecedented number of visitors, and continues to do so, particularly on warm evenings and weekends. 

The single biggest impact on our operations has without doubt become dealing with the volume of rubbish.  It soon became obvious that our normal bins were not coping, despite being emptied twice a day instead of the three or four times a week as they normally would at this time of year.  We have therefore organised additional bins at Rushmere and at Putney Lower Common.

With rubbish disposal costs alone increasing five-fold to nearly £5,000 a month since April, we are incredibly grateful to all of you who have donated to the Commons since a local Residents' Association put out an appeal on our behalf. 

We would also like to record our thanks to the small army of local residents who have volunteered their time to help our staff keep the Rushmere and Putney Lower Common, in particular, clean and tidy.

Oak Processionary Moths

Although rubbish has been the main focus, other important work has continued and our Maintenance Team have been busy removing the Oak Processionary Moth Caterpillar nests from high risk areas - these are the nests that are low down in the trees and on main paths or in heavily used areas.  Unfortunately these caterpillars are now here to stay and removing them all is no longer an option for many open spaces such as the Commons.

If you find any nests in these busier areas, please do 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.

Heath Fire

Easter weekend saw the potentially devastating fire rage across Putney Heath. With six fire engines and two command units on site, the London Fire Brigade had their work cut out getting it under control.  

Fortunately the wind took the fire quickly across the heath and the damage, whilst significant, was only at surface level, unlike the fire a few weeks later that smouldered for days underground.  However, at peak nesting time, we lost the nests of many birds, Long-tailed tits in particular.  Many Common lizards were seen running from the site so hopefully they were able to survive and find new homes.

It's a butterfly time of year

Have you noticed an increase in butterfly numbers this summer?  A member of our staff, Angela, and her husband Les, have been monitoring the butterflies on Putney Heath and so far this year have recorded 25 species. Highlights have been Green Hairstreak, Marbled White, Painted Lady, Essex and Large Skippers and White Admiral, as well as the more regular visitors such as Gatekeepers, Small and Large Whites, Green-veined Whites and Peacocks.

Having spent hours on the Heath looking for the elusive Purple Emporer without success, one morning one flew in through their lounge window.....quickly caught and released, it settled on the chimney pot for a photo opportunity!

The Butterfly Conservation "Big Butterfly Count" is currently underway so if you'd like to help them with their UK-wide butterfly survey, do pop along to their website.


              Large Skipper                       Painted Lady                      Purple Emperor


Queensmere Swans

We are delighted that the Queensmere Swans have succesfully raised 5 cygnets this year.  We are grateful to everyone who has taken care around the pond and kept their dogs under control and out of the water and allowed the cygnets and the other wildfowl to flourish.  Despite one dog attack, the family is thriving and although they are a little bigger than this now....they were so very cute at a few weeks old!  Thank you to Sarah, one of our regular visitors, for the photographs.


Annual Newsletter

The annual hard-copy Newsletter that is delivered to all levy-paying housholds was sent out in June. An electronic copy is available here.