Between a dog and a three year old, I’m in the park two to three times a day, so I tend to notice the arrival of some new baby waterfowl. A few weeks back, on a trip to the playground, I noticed two baby moorhen near the north island, peeping away in the water while their mother walked along the edge of the island. Before the ramps to the islands were removed during the clearing of the lake a few months ago, baby chicks could easily access dry land. When I walked the dog later in the day, both were beginning to look unwell. Once in the water, they had no way out: they were too small either to get on to the island or out on to the pavement. I made a makeshift raft by tying some sticks together with bits of long grass and managed to scoop one on, but the other was too far away.
Uncertain what else to do, I called the RSPCA – their officer was too busy to get to the park before nightfall, and in any case I don’t think they quite grasped the situation I was describing (they reassured me that it’s natural for moorhen chicks to go in the water not long after they are born; I tried to explain I was less concerned with them being in the water than I was with the fact that they couldn’t get out). They asked me to call in the morning if the chicks were still there and seemed to need help; when I checked on them an hour later, both had already drowned, having swum to exhaustion.
It was at this point that I contacted the Friends of Rowntree Park, to ask what had happened to the ramps. Cath answered my email swiftly and shared my concerns; when a new group of moorhen chicks ended up in the same situation last week, I went straight to Cath to see if the Friends could help. Walking through the park again an hour and half later (armed with sticks and a bit of scrap wood I found on my walk so that, in case she hadn’t received my email, I could attempt to help them myself somehow), I was delighted to find Cath, along with Rosemary and Hugo, mid-rescue operation. They managed to get three chicks back on to the south island, and one on to the north island (a second by the north island had already died). The next day in the park, I gathered some large sticks in the hopes of propping them by the edge of the lake so at the very least they could get a break from swimming, and hopefully on to dry land a bit. As I was doing so, I bumped into Hugo and Rosemary with some new ramps they had made, and Cath made a makeshift nest of sticks on a couple of bricks for them, too. A few hours later I spotted the chicks on Cath’s nest, and a day or two later I spotted them – and one of the smaller ducklings – making good use of the ramp to get on and off the island. After what had happened before, this felt a wonderful success story.
To make a long story short – it was amazing to see such a swift response from the Friends in helping out some of the inhabitants of the park. At a time when budget cuts mean the park depends more and more on volunteers to maintain it, it’s wonderful to see what a dedicated team the Friends are; they’ve certainly inspired me to look into more ways to get involved.
Guest post by Alison
We’re delighted to announce that our first event with YUMI is an International Picnic, on July 16th, from 11am to 2pm. Share international food, learn origami, plant up herb planters for the Cafe and get information about FRP and YUMI activities. Do bring a picnic and join in! Suitable for all ages.
Information about this, and our other activities, is on our latest newsletter. And it’s always worth following us on Facebook and Twitter.
You might be interested in this Learn to French Dance, which is on at the Park, at 3pm on the same day.
We’ve had to take the difficult decision to cancel the Birthday Party this year. This is due to the fact that 1) we do not have enough volunteers to organise it, and 2) we have not raised the money needed for several new ‘essential items’ (eg security, portaloos, a PA system), which are required on top of the usual costs (insurance, printing, licence, publicity etc). We have put out multiple appeals for volunteers and contributions, including crowdfunding and a YorkMix article.
The huge numbers of people (probably 5000) attending last year’s Party meant that we clearly need these additional volunteers and facilities; without them, we cannot run a safe and enjoyable event. Huge thanks to Christina Nichols who has worked very hard trying to resolve these issues, and to all those who offered their time and money, this year. We are sorry for any disappointment caused. NB if anyone is interested in helping a team to organise next year’s Party, please do speak up: planning starts in January, but never too soon to volunteer!
STOP PRESS: DUE TO CRAZY RAIN SITUATION, THIS HAS BEEN RELOCATED TO SOUTHLANDS METHODIST CHURCH We are delighted that the York International Shakespeare Festival are again putting on a show in the park; see the poster below. Many people enjoy coming to these events, and often embrace the whole atmosphere, by bringing picnics, blankets, deck chairs etc.
You can get tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/volpone-or-out-foxed-tickets… Although the show is offered for free, donations are invited.
The Birthday Party is the biggest event in Rowntree Park and it’s always lovely to see the park so full of people having a great time. The date for 2017 is Sunday July 16th.
However organising the Birthday Party is a major undertaking, with many hours being spent on planning, and on the day itself. A lot of the work is done by the Friends, as volunteers, but there are a lot of items which can’t be done for free. Obviously there is income from the stall-holders and various attractions, but this will not cover the anticipated costs. The costs this year will additionally include the hire of Portaloos, the payment of security personnel (to take care of car parking, in particular) and contributing to the costs of the event co-ordinator, as well as the ‘regular’ costs of paying First Aiders, event licence, event insurance, printing flyers/posters etc.
If we are to go ahead, the Friends need to be able to cover the costs, and so we are trying to raise £2292 using a crowdfunding scheme called Spacehive, and you can see our appeal here: https://www.spacehive.com/rowntreeparkbirthdayparty
If you would like to help by making a pledge, I hope that you find the system fairly easy to use (it is quite similar to sponsoring people via Justgiving) and that you can pass the idea on to friends and family. Because we are trying to demonstrate the level of support, your pledge can be a very token contribution – the smallest amount is £2. And, if the total amount is not raised by 1st June, then you will not be charged at all. Cheques/cash are not practical in this situation, I’m afraid. Additionally, if you know of any businesses that might want to sponsor the event, do let them know about this appeal.
Thanks for your help!
Guest post, from Emma Farley (from “littlesilverhedgehog”)
Now that Spring has sprung, hedgehogs are starting to emerge from hibernation. It is great news that there are already hedgehog houses in Rowntree Park tucked away for spiky residents. Please remember that a hedgehog out in the day is not okay. If you see one in daylight in the park or elsewhere in York, please capture it and place it in a high sided box, keep it warm and contact a hedgehog rescue. Dogs can also attack hedgehogs so please be vigilant and, if an attack happens, it is vital to seek urgent treatment for the hedgehog. You can help York to be a haven for hedgehogs by making your garden and street hedgehog friendly. Avoid using pesticides and slug pellets, check carefully before you strim or mow, ensure there are gaps in fences to enable hedgehogs to travel between gardens and leave out food and water. You will find lots of tips about helping hedgehogs in York at www.facebook.com/littlesilverhedgehog and www.littlesilverhedgehog.wordpress.com