Welcome to our AFON Advent Calendar! Each day leading up to Christmas you will find a wonderful new post by a different member. This years theme is your favourite nature reserve; where do you go to escape from the world and connect with nature? Enjoy!
I’ve lived in a city all my life. The sounds of sirens, buses and cars are normal and never seem unheard of. Two miles away from home in the midst of urban sprawls is 460 hectares of open land and woodland. Wimbledon common is my closest woodland and I have spent hours there. Mostly due to the fact I have three dogs who love to roam and ramble through the ferns, bramble and oak forests. The common like most green spaces in London are widely adored and visited. Hundreds of golfers, joggers and dog walkers visit daily and an estimated 10,000 visit every weekend. This can seem devastating for local wildlife, constantly being disturbed by people and dogs. But in spite of this some species which are nationally falling in numbers, flourish. Such as my favourite birds of the woodlands, the kestrels.
Over the summer I watched the adults and three pesky juveniles they raised. And to this day I see an adult hunting, flying or screeching almost daily. Neither adults are bothered by me or my dogs and occasionally get spooked by an oncoming cyclist.
Another species I’ve recently begun to photograph are the erratic little Grey wagtails that inhabit the Beverly Brook River. They too are familiar with the presence of people as most of the river is lined with a path. The river is an urban river; litter can be seen slumped along the bank and an abandoned pushchair prods out the water’s surface. However this doesn’t deter the wagtails and the five individuals I have discovered continue to reside on the river.
I have been visiting the common for almost eight years now and I remember spotting my first Great spotted woodpecker nest, hearing my first Little owl and watching badgers leave their setts however I am yet to see the elusive Wombles that live in the woodlands.