Tuesday 29 November 2022

Book review - West London Wildlife featuring Darlands Nature Reserve in Barnet

Are you looking for a wonderful Xmas present for a local from Barnet or North West London? If you are, then you may want to consider a new book called West London Wildlife published by Aurora Metro books. There is a whole chapter on the history and wildlife of the Darlands Nature Reserve in Barnet. I should know, I wrote it. Regular readers may have spotted that I wasn't as prolific this year as I've been in most other years and one of the reasons was because I was writing and reasearching for my contribution. I was thrilled to be cold called by Aurora Metro to contribute, as the protection of Darlands has been one of my missions. I was pleased to recommend one of this blogs great friends, Samuel Levy, AKA @FinchleyBirder, to supply the photographs for the contribution. Samuel also provided much of the background to the article, for which I am eternally grateful. We worked together to harness opposition to several planning threats to the reserve last year. 

I've been going to Darlands since I was a child at St Vincents School which is a 10 minute walk away. It was a magical place. The lake still had the old Victorian boating hut back then. We'd collect tadpoles and other flora and fauna and bring them back to the class to identify them. These days, I regularly walk my dogs around the site. It was neglected for decades by Barnet Council, but there is now a conservation trust, who's work I 100% support

Researching the book revealed a fascinating past, I'm not going to give any spoilers away, read the book, but it is an interesting story, well worth a read. 

There is far more to the book than just my small contribution. This book focuses on the green spaces of West London, stretching from Richmond Park to Ruislip Woods, and featuring Bushy Park, London Wetland Centre, Kew Gardens, Gunnersbury Triangle, Crane Park, Chiswick House, Darlands Nature Reserve, Hampstead Heath, Wimbledon Common and the River Thames.

You can find out more at the official book lauch at Books on the Rise, in Richmond on Sat 10th November at 14.30. There is a talk on London's green spaces and the chance to buy the book at a discounted rate.  There is an amazing panel including some of Londons top experts on the subject. It will be well worth a listen


Ian Alexander has been in love with nature all his life, having at various times been fascinated by lichens, birdwatching, fossils, and dragonflies. He enjoys practical conservation work, gardening, and photographing nature. He lives in Chiswick, blogs about nature, and volunteers at his local nature reserve, Gunnersbury Triangle.

Gary Backler became a member of Friends of the River Crane Environment in 2004, a year after the charity was founded. He has been a Trustee since 2011 and became Chair in 2021. He continues to retain a focus on planning and development issues in the lower Crane valley. In 2012 he set up a programme of regular usage counts of open spaces and paths in the lower Crane, which continues to generate hard data to inform planning and investment decisions.

Wanda Bodnar is a marine geospatial data scientist. She currently works at the Thames Estuary Partnership where she applies spatial data in the context of aquatic habitat conservation, restoration and climate resilience within the Greater Thames Estuary. She also leads stand up paddleboarding (SUP) sessions at a Kew based paddleboarding club called Active360 on the upper Thames Estuary.

Philip Briggs has lived in the borough of Richmond-upon-Thames all his life and developed a love of wildlife from an early age. He has volunteered at the WWT London Wetland Centre since 1998, leading wildlife walks and assisting with wildlife monitoring, particularly bats. Since 2003 he has worked for the Bat Conservation Trust where he manages the National Bat Monitoring Programme, a long-running citizen science project.

Susanne Masters
is a botanist specializing in edible plants and their trade around the world. She works with distilleries on ingredient selection and sourcing. Susanne has run workshops and spoken about plants in beverages for organisations including the Boutique Bar Show, Royal Horticultural Society, and Chelsea Physic Garden, Author of Wild Waters and contributor to Kew's Teas, Tonics, and Tipples', she has written features for publications including the New York Times, Guardian. Her academic research on wild species in trade is listed on https://orcid.org

If you want to order the book online - https://www.aurorametro.com/product/west-london-wildlife-book/ -

If you are local to Mill Hill and  want a copy of the book, I can get copies for collection at Mill Hill Music Complex for £14.99, a £5 discount. Please email me at roger@tichborne.org to place your order.

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