Another #WilderStreet in Portsmouth

Tamworth Park Landscaping 1991 © Graham Claxton

Tamworth park, Portsmouth, was landscaped in 1991 with the intention of creating a haven for wildlife. Now, almost 30 years on, residents on the adjacent road have joined Team Wilder in an effort to boost community engagement and to foster their relationships to nature.

Portsmouth is the second most densely populated city outside of London. Its urban greenspaces are few and far between, but are precious havens for local residents and wildlife. Back in 1991, a 3.05 hectares (30,500 m2) parcel of land was landscaped and divided into three parts; a playground, a playing field, and a wilder area with a pond, a meadow, and a hedgerow along the length of Tamworth Road.  The park has now matured into a wildlife haven in the middle of Portsmouth. In recent years, the park has brought the community together, as local residents become stewards of the wildlife haven.

My wife and I have lived on Tamworth road for many years now and have been feeding the birds for a number of years with some success - we've spotted lots of wrens, blackbirds and sparrows in the hedgerow; goldfinches, great spotted woodpeckers, starlings and blue, great, and long tailed tits are all frequent visitors to the bird feeders. We have also seen jays, sparrow hawks, peregrines, green woodpeckers, grey herons, collared doves, wood pigeons, crows and magpies. Occasionally we get visits from gold crests, fieldfares, white throats and song thrushes. This year, with the help of the Trust's Wilder Communities Officer, Andy Ames, we were able to install two nest boxes in the trees which have already attracted a lot of attention from the birds and we're planning on putting up more nest boxes soon.

Many locals and visitors come to Tamworth park to take photographs and generally enjoy the spectacles that unfold. The park is also near several infant and junior schools and is used by youngsters who use the park and spot the wildlife as they walk to and from school.

The local foxes, woodpeckers, and squirrels have all been known to breed in the park and perhaps there are many more mating families that the locals are not aware of.

In 2018 we contacted Grow Wild for packets of wildflower seeds and worked with Portsmouth City
Council to create 2 wildflower beds. Our neighbours and their children helped to sow seeds and we waited in expectation for the results. The following spring and summer, bees and butterflies buzzed and fluttered around the wildflowers. The project was such a success that it's been repeated in subsequent years and now produces beautiful displays all throughout the summer. As this area is on the school run many children from 5 to 16 discover the beauty of the flowers and insects they
would never have seen if these beds had not been established.

In 2019, we planted fruit trees - supplied by the local council - with Portsmouth Tree Wardens and Andy Ames. This started our group's involvement with the Trust's outreach programme, Wilder Portsmouth

Our neighbours and we are keen to get involved more and are coming together to create a Wild Street. We're excited to join Frances Avenue and Whitwell Road in the nature recovery network that is connecting the wild spaces across Portsmouth. 

Wilder Portsmouth Missing Wildlife Poster

© Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

This year, we posted "missing species" posters on lamp posts and have plans on installing information boards in the park to garner more interest for wildlife amongst residents and the wider community as well as planting fruiting hedges to attract more wildlife. 

Across the road, on the other side of Tamworth park, is the Stacey Centre, a community centre that hosts a lot of classes, workshops and  activities for all members of the community. They even have a shared garden to engage people with nature. Tamworth road and Stacey Centre had collaborated on a couple of projects in the months before the pandemic, and as soon as community events are up and running again, we look forward to nurturing our relationship.

 

We're very fortunate to have one of the few greenspaces in Portsmouth be right on our doorstep! We'd love to nurture wildlife that is already there and engage more of the greater neighbourhood, as many people use Tamworth park to reconnect with nature. We look forward to continuing our work with Wilder Portsmouth.

Graham Claxton

Wilder Future team walking into sunset

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