The Nature Ninja’s return!

After a first successful half term, the Nature Ninja’s are leaping into action for another half term!    This after-school club for primary aged children 4-9 (ish) will be running bi-weekly sessions on Thursdays 4pm-5pm In Rowntree Park.


Activities and adventures to engage and excite that will include a mix of science, engineering, art and crafts and much more!  A focus on the natural world around us and the local community, teamwork, problem-solving and most importantly, lots of fun!  We meet at our clubhouse under the cafe.

There is a limit of 10 places available for the ‘Nature Ninjas’. The sessions are run by volunteers and children remain the responsibility of their parents throughout the session.  We aim to create sessions where the children and grown ups can get involved in activities together.

Each session is only £2 per child for Friends of Rowntree Park (a total of £8 for the half- term) and £3 a session to non-members (£12 for the half term).  However, it works out better, in the long run, to become a Friend of Rowntree Park member for just £5 a year per household. See link below.

The dates of the sessions are June 7th, June 21st, July 5th and July 19th.

Take a look at our recent blog post to see some of the fun activities we’ve been up to this half term!

Nature Ninjas Members Click to buy 8.00
Nature Ninjas Non Members Click to buy 12.00

To join Friends of Rowntree Park it is only £5 per household.  The money goes back into maintaining the park (lots of gardening!) and running events for the community.  You also get 10% off at the cafe, monthly newsletters and free/discount/priority booking for events. You can pay by cash/bank transfer or PayPal.

Contact for further details.



Nature Ninjas spring into action!




What an amazing start our ‘Nature Ninjas’ have had!  This new after-school club has been running a  few weeks now and it is proving to be lots of fun!  Our Younger Friends of Rowntree Park have been trying out a variety of nature-based activities including den building, pond dipping, bug hunting and making birds nests.  There is still a lot more to come throughout this half term – we can’t wait!


The club of 15 children meet weekly on a Thursday after school.  If you are interested in your child coming along to future Nature Ninja sessions that may run next half term, get in touch with the Young Friends via Facebook or via to register interest.

All our events are run by volunteers.  If you are interested in helping run and/or organise children’s events, we’d love to hear from you.

The Young Friends also run monthly one-off events, more details can be found on Facebook.




Is Rowntree Park rusting?

Occasionally we notice some curious (natural) goings-on in the park and we do our best to figure out what’s happening. Recently a Friend pointed out an area with rust-coloured water running over the lakeside paths – what was it? where did it come from? Was there a giant iron structure buried in the park??

Luckily for us, Gary (one of the gardening volunteers) and his partner Lucy have some expertise in related areas, and Gary emailed to say:

We think that what you’re seeing in the park is the result of iron bacteria, so-called because they use iron, rather than oxygen, during their respiration. In their life cycles, soluble iron from the soil gets turned into insoluble iron (‘rust’, which appears as orange/red slime). This whole process could be a byproduct of all the organic compounds being provided by the multitude of geese and ducks in the park, which will of course encourage growth of microorganisms, which will then use up all the oxygen, allowing anaerobic bacteria in turn to then take control of the ecosystem.

We then asked a follow-up question, about the oily sheen that is sometimes seen in the same areas, and we got this answer:

In this case the oily sheen is the result of the iron bacteria, but rather than hydrocarbons being produced by the bacteria, it could be the bacteria themselves; they’ll proliferate madly but as things become tough they’ll start to die and break down, resulting in an oily sheen. That, or the products they make take on the resemblance of being hydrocarbons or oil, but actually aren’t.

So it looks like Rowntree Park is neither the burial place of a prehistoric iron-working site (a great disappointment to some people!) nor the potential location of Yorkshire’s biggest oil field (a great relief to us all!) But it is fascinating what can emerge if you ‘Ask a Scientist.’

Thank you, Gary and Lucy!

Blossom time in the park

The cherry blossom in the park is looking so lovely, and we’re looking forward to the Japanese Society coming next Saturday, for a blossom celebration. However, we’d also like to celebrate the beauty of the apple blossom. If you haven’t already found it, there is a row of apple trees, of several different types, in Butcher Terrace Field (the bit of the park closest to the Millennium Bridge). The Friends planted these trees a few years ago and they’re now looking thoroughly settled-in. While you’re there, check out the wildlife pond (with tansy bank behind) – the froglets have probably all hopped off to hide in the undergrowth – and the Thicket (a grand-sounding name for a patch of hawthorne, wild rose, hazel etc). apple blossom may 2018

Loads of music in the park!


first music session 2018.tif

The first York Music Centre session went really well on Saturday – we even organised the weather! It was so lovely to hear the kids make a joyous sound, in the open air … There’s more to follow and various other events, music and otherwise, to come. Check out our What’s On page!

It’s baby bird time!

Despite the delightful bank holiday weather (yeuck!), our local birds will still be getting on with sitting on their eggs, tending to their chicks and raising the next generation of birds for the park and the surrounding neighbourhoods. From small to large (including owls and woodpeckers), the birds love our park!

Over the winter, the Friends have been providing wild bird food (seeds etc) from several feeding stations in the park; these are much appreciated by our ‘feathered friends’ and you may notice that the feeding stations will be getting extra attention, during this crucial season! If you would like to be involved in this work, do get in touch with Rosemary (

Offering bird food in your own backyard or garden will allow the birds even more support, by expanding their foraging area, but please do ensure that your feeding station doesn’t make the birds vulnerable to the local cat population. The RSPCA says:

A cat’s natural instinct is to hunt it’s prey but there is a real concern domestic cats are impacting the welfare of local wildlife. To help prevent your cat bringing home unwanted surprises, and to protect local wildlife, we recommend:

  • Restrict outdoor access at dusk and dawn when wildlife is most active, at least an hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise.
  • Restrict outdoor access after bad weather such as rain, to allow birds to come out and feed.
  • Attaching a bell to a quick-release safety collar.

It would also be great if someone knowledgeable could volunteer to keep a regular bird count, for the park. As we have been moving the geese on for several months, we’d like to be sure that this hasn’t had any negative impact on the ducks, coots etc. Get in contact by

Off now, to splish-splash-splosh through the puddles!

We’re in the news!

Our lovely Easter Egg trail was covered in the local paper: many thanks to Christine and the Younger Friends group for all their hard work – and especially to Hilary and family for getting stuck in (and wearing the bunny ears!) :