Areas of meadow have been created on the Common and within the Park to encourage wildlife biodiversity. A specialised ‘sunflower ‘meadow has been planted on the east side of the Park to attract the sparrow population.
Peckham Rye Park: Wildlife Survey
Peckham Rye Park lies in the southern part of the London Borough of Southwark. It is listed as SB1 Grade II (Site of Borough Importance). The Park is an area of 49 acres of public open space that was established in the latter part of the 19th century. Immediately to its north is an extensive area of 64 acres of closely mown grass known as Peckham Rye Common.
The Park comprises of a variety of landscapes most of them planted with horticultural specimens of shrubs and trees. Intermingled with these are native plant species and small areas of semi-natural habitat. In the centre of the Park is a formal garden named after a prominent horticulturist, J.J. Sexby - The Sexby Garden.
The main habitats identified in the Wildlife Survey are:
The large expanses of amenity grassland are dominated by perennial rye grass. To the west of the grassland wildflower planting has been carried out.
Semi-natural broad leaved woodland
The main area is present in the west of the central area. The woodland consists of mature native trees including ash, oak and crack willow. There are also obviously planted non-native trees including Persian ironwood and balsam poplar. Ornamental trees fringe the western edge including snowberry and prunus.
The scattered trees within the Park include both broadleaf and coniferous species. The majority of the Park is lined with trees especially London plane, common lime and horse chestnut. An arboretum has been established to the south of the Sexby Garden. Avenues of mature trees have been planted along the older pathways.
The River Peck is visible above ground running from east to west, appearing at the eastern boundary before being culverted close to the back of the rockery then flowing north below Peckham Rye Common.
A relatively large lake and five ponds are to be found within the ornamental areas of the Park. Four of the five ponds are situated in a 'landscaped valley' and are linked by a stream. The fifth pond is in the Sexby Garden. The lake lies towards the east, with a central island planted with shrubs and trees, supporting a large population of water fowl.
There are a series of stream fed ponds in the Japanese garden. The pond in the Sexby Garden is isolated from any water source and does not support waterfowl. Consequently the water quality is good. The smooth newt has been observed in this pond. Although a detailed survey was carried out in 2002, no evidence of the great crested newt has been found.
There is an abundance of wildlife to be found within the Park, especially in the woodland areas. The most plentiful being foxes and squirrels.
Records of uncommon and protected species
The nationally scarce musk stork's bill Erodium moschatum occurs in the short turf in the northern end of Peckham Rye Common.
Reptiles and Amphibians
Only a single species of amphibian has been recorded in the Park, this being the smooth newt Triturus vulgaris. No reptiles have been recorded in the Park. However, the slow worm Anguis fragilis, common lizard Lacerta vivpara and the introduced red-eared terrapin have been recorded.
There are many birds to be found in the woodland area including species of tit, nuthatch, greater spotted woodpecker and song thrush. Substantial flocks of herring gull visit the Park and the Common during the winter months.
In order to simplify the list, only Red and Amber List species have been extracted.
Spotted flycatcher Muscicapa striata (1994)
Song thrush Turdus philomlos (2000)
Herring gull Larus argentatus
Green woodpecker Picus viridis
Redwing Turdus iliacus
Wigeon Anas penelope
Pochard Aythya ferina
The stag beetle Lucanus cervus has been recorded. The stag beetle is Britain's largest terrestrial beetle- between 5cm and 8cm in length. A nationally scarce and globally threatened species, it is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.
Wildlife and the restoration
The central area of the Park was closed in 2004 for restoration with funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The wildlife survey was carried out before the closure of the Park. Great care was taken during the restoration works to minimise any impact on the wildlife and measures were taken to encourage new and existing wildlife on its reopening in summer 2005.