On Sunday 12 April 2015, 20 members of the Society caught the 8:40 train to Harrow & Wealdstone, where we changed to the London Overground to Willesden Junction. There we caught our third and final train to Kew Gardens station. The gardens themselves were just a ten minute walk from the station.The day was dry and sunny. There was a cool breeze but things warmed up nicely during the day (too warm if you ventured into the Palm House – it was fun to see the stream of members exiting the Palm House and heading for the lake to cool down!)
Once we had paid our entrance fees (half price as we had travelled by train) we had a drink in the café and consulted the maps of the garden before setting off. Some of the group decided to do their own thing and other followed Martin Kincaid’s expert tour of the garden.
The first stop was at the gallery of botanic art, stopping to watch a Goldcrest on the way. Next we headed towards the Pagoda where we saw a couple of Green Woodpeckers in a hole in a tree. Plenty of rose-ringed parakeets were also evident.
We then headed west in the direction of the Thames in the hope of seeing Bluebells and Snake Head Fritillaries. There were some lovely Cherry trees in full bloom by the Japanese Gardens and a couple of empty benches so we stopped for lunch and enjoyed a picnic.
We decided to take in Queen Charlotte’s Cottage, which meant passing through one of the children’s play areas. The entrance was flanked with a willow sculpture of mushrooms (Magic Mushrooms?).
Kew has an interesting Badger sett, it is scaled up so that humans can explore the sett and see how the badgers live. A number of our group decided to explore the sett – poor Arthur managed to bang his head on the roof a couple of times.
We saw another Goldcrest at Queen Charlotte’s Cottage but we were too early for the Bluebells. When we reached the Thames there were great views of Syon House. We walked north and were rewarded with great views of Snake Head Fritillaries in bloom.
The next stop was the White Peaks Café. After tea/coffee members split up and wandered around the grounds. I decided to go on the Treetop Walkway. The walkway sways a lot in the strong breeze and, at times, I had to hold onto the handrail – this made me think of the Millennium Footbridge over the Thames. The climb to the top of the walkway is worth it with great views over the park and London. The structure of the walkway itself is interesting and the design of the supports has been chosen to blend in with the trees.
We saw Holly Blue, orange tip and Comma butterflies. In addition to the Goldcrests we were treated to the spectacle of two Sparrowhawks in flight chasing a duck. There were plenty of waders in evidence. These included a pair of Egyptian Geese with four goslings, a pair of Little Grebes, Long-tailed tits, Tufted Ducks and a Red-crested Pochard.
We all met up at 4:15pm at the entrance to return to Kew Gardens Station. This was an unfortunate choice of meeting place as there were shops nearby. Martin had to go and extract some members of the group from the shops so that we could make our 4:40pm train. We had a good journey back to Milton Keynes arriving at 6:40pm, very tired, but glad that we had such a great day out.
I would like to thank Martin Kincaid for organising the event and for keeping smiling whilst leading the group (the popular expression “herding cats” springs to mind). Paul Lund for providing timetables and everyone who attended for their company and shared knowledge on the day.
Peter (admin) Hassett