Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Jester takes a mini-break

 Thanks to Tim Walker for this great blog and wonderful photos, sent in on 30th March 2022, amidst great excitement among Mayow Park users.

It was Monday 28th March when what looked like an enormous bird of prey appeared in Mayow Park. Eagle-eyed newspaper readers quickly identified her as Jester, the missing falcon from London Zoo. National newspapers and TV had reported her daring escape and subsequent sightings in various south west London locations. She has now been absent without leave from the zoo for two weeks. It seems that after trying many other parks, as at Wednesday, she seems happy to stay with us here in Mayow Park.  

She is a crested Caracara falcon, native to the Americas and is a real beauty. She seems happy on the ground grubbing around for worms in the flower beds and across the main field, effortlessly evading occasional crow attacks and uncontrolled dogs by swooping up to the nearest tree. Or she’ll happily walk very close to people, generously offering up photo opportunities. She even spent some time with the outdoor yoga group on the main field.

On Tuesday, after multiple sightings had been reported, two keepers from the zoo arrived. They spent two hours patiently observing and feeding Jester, but she warily stayed just far away enough to evade capture.  They seemed happy that she is healthy and managing well and once she had eaten her fill they said they would come back to try another day. She apparently is more than capable of surviving in our park though, and the zoo asks that people please not try to feed her.

On Wednesday zoo staff were in the park again, saying that she appears to be in good health. They are waiting on some special equipment to catch her and that could be a few days away yet. Wherever she goes, they aim to check on her daily.

After three days here perhaps she will stay long enough for the zoo to find a way to take her home. But meanwhile, it does look as though she’s actually having a very good time here in our lovely park.

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

A 5 mile trip along the Waterlink Way

 This positive blog was sent in by Pippa Moss, early March 2022. Pippa lives in Sydenham. She enjoys running through and exploring green spaces in South East London.

Yet again, as the world seems crazy, having somewhere to escape for a calming walk, run or cycle becomes so important. Therefore let’s look at the delights of the Waterlink Way in case you haven’t yet explored it. These photos were taken this week (early March) - hopefully they give you a taste - Spring & Summer will mean more green (hiding the buildings nearby) and less mud!

There are several routes to join the Waterlink Way from Mayow Park but a suggested starting point is down at Bell Green. It’s not the most inspiring approach down between one end of Sainsbury’s and the B & Q carpark, but it quite quickly feels like you are somewhere different. Look out for the blue bridge and turn left and you are walking along next to Pool River. It’s a small river for sure but in the summer you will see picnickers, children and dogs paddling. Schools sometimes do pond dipping and nature trails. A river is a river - although you are unlikely to see any boating on this one. You might get lucky and see a variety of river birds.

You will see walkers, runners, and many cyclists who may be planning to go all the way to Greenwich. Running to Greenwich provides a great reward, particularly when the weather is great, as after 5 miles you stand on the bank of the River Thames (and you can always get public transport back!). However, this blog is going to talk about an approximately 5 mile round trip from Sydenham to Ladywell. A good starting point for most, including those with children.

The scenic path (which is wide and always easy for bikes, buggies, scooters etc) closely follows the River Pool until you reach the ‘Ravensbourne Confluence’ - at this point you are then following the Ravensbourne River. There’s a slightly strange part when you pop out in a carpark at Catford but after crossing it, going through the tunnel under the road (where you usually then find a great coffee van!), you walk past some attractive newly built flats and you are back joining the path by the river again.

For the kids, you could call this route a ‘playground crawl’, as you will then pass playground number 2 which is actually a bit different to your average playground - see photo below of one of the pieces of equipment (although wait until a less muddy time of year!!).

At this point you are at Ladywell Fields. There are paths either side of the water so you can spice things up and take a different one on the way back! There is an adventure playground (mostly open in school holidays) and then a spiralling bridge that takes you into the next section of Ladywell near the hospital. Here there is a skateboarding area, tennis courts, and the Good Hope Cafe with playground number 4 next to it.

If you carried on you would pop out on Ladywell Road. It has a real village feel with some lovely looking shops and cafes. (To join the Waterlink Way after this is a little of a wiggle and probably a 15 minute walk until you pick up the river again - just follow the cycle route signs.)

Or you can grab a Good Hope coffee (a chilled out kind of run with a drink break is surely allowed?) and then head back.

Here are a few photos of things you can look out for on the way, including some rather nicely designed signposts. It is certainly an attractive route, largely hidden from the urban world, with the babbling water alongside you, also with an appealing end goal (either the Good Hope Cafe or the River Thames). You could even take a litter picking stick and black bag with you, especially if you are walking, as parts can unfortunately be spoiled by litter but there are plenty of bins. There are also groups like ‘Nature Volunteering in Lewisham’ (see Facebook) who advertise clean ups. They have one on Saturday 26th March.

Do enjoy and explore this route soon if you haven’t already.