Posts

Foxes: friends or foes?

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I am fascinated by the wildlife which has managed to make itself home in human-dominated places. Travelling to another city, whether in the UK or elsewhere in the world, I like to observe the wildlife the locals take for granted. They say one man's trash is another man's treasure and that's certainly true of urban wildlife. Tourists are fascinated by the grey squirrels in the Royal Parks, even though they're non-native and found almost everywhere here.  Park Hill Park, July 2019 One creature we have a lot of in British cities is the red fox, which apparently started moving into cities from the 1930s onwards. Foxes are a divisive creature, as is common with urban wildlife. I'm not going to get into the issues around fox hunting but I do recall the protests when Parliament were debating whether to ban it. Rural foxes behave rather differently to urban foxes - they are flighty and mostly active at night. In London, the foxes strut along the pavement in broad daylight l

Beddington Farmlands

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I used to work near the Beddington Farmlands site and it wasn't the most popular neighbour among my colleagues but I found it fascinating. I got some glimpses of wildlife through the fencing - families of foxes and birds including little egrets, shovelers and teal (ducks).  Fox at the Beddington Lane side of the Farmlands, May 2012 From the Hackbridge end, with my camera at full zoom I was able to spot wetland birds like shoveler ducks and lapwings. Lapwings and shovelers, March 2014 Although technically in the borough of Sutton, Beddington Farmlands has been an important site for Croydon for over 160 years. The sewage works here originated as a sewage processing site for the Croydon Board of Health and it still plays a big part in our sewage and waste disposal services. It's also close to Croydon - there are views of the town centre and Purley Way area from the new bird hides installed a couple of years ago. Ikea towers and new buildings in Croydon town centre, Nov 2020 The va

The underappreciated beauty of graveyards

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As somebody who likes exploring different outdoor places, when we got locked down last year I realised I needed to do something to keep life interesting with the new restrictions. I decided it was time to search out places locally that I had overlooked in the past. One type of open space that I found was still quite quiet was churchyards. The quiet and the long-established trees make them good birdwatching sites.  Jay at St Peter's Church, South Croydon I have discovered that while there are a lot of churches in Croydon of varying ages, relatively few of them have graveyards. Some disused graveyards have been converted into public gardens, with the gravestones moved to the edges or used to create walls. St John's Memorial Garden, Croydon Minster In Croydon, the Minster graveyard was converted into a public memorial garden in 1956, in memory of those lost in World War II. There are still some gravestones along one side of the church, plus a war memorial. There's also some gr

Ghosts of hospitals past

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I know old hospitals aren't beautiful places but I think they're fascinating, in an eerie way. The website " Lost Hospitals of London " lists 680 hospitals in its index, nearly all of which no longer exist. The reasons for this are varied, but the establishment of the NHS in 1948 and subsequent centralisation of services is a major one. With the advent of new treatments such as antibiotics and vaccinations, isolation hospitals for infectious diseases such as tuberculosis aren't needed as much. People spend less time in hospital following surgery and more conditions can be treated in outpatient facilities or at home.  Croydon University Hospital, previously known as Mayday hospital, was originally an infirmary built for the nearby Croydon Workhouse. From London Road, the buildings look more modern, but the Woodcroft Wing behind is part of the original infirmary buildings. The stone below is located in a corridor in the Woodcroft Wing and proudly details the workhou