Tower Hamlets Cemetery

From Londonbirders

This is 27 acres of mostly deciduous woodland (including mature sycamore, oak, horse chestnut and ash, with extensive elm) in the heart of Tower Hamlets. Having opened in 1841, there had been 247,000 bodies interred by 1889, but it closed to burials in 1966. It became rundown in the mid 20th Century, and was bombed five times during the Second World War. The LBTH took over the site in 1986, and it was declared a local nature reserve in May 2000, with the Soanes Centre built in 2004. This is the base for a full time warden and visits by local schools. The Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park were established in 2000, and take an active role in maintaining the site as a nature reserve, and accessing the requisite funding and volunteer groups to assist in its further improvement. The site has a small pond and plans for a larger one replete with a reed bed sometime in 2008. The site is surrounded by mostly residential houses or blocks and includes adjacent open land on Cantrell Road and Ackroyd Drive, an area known as Scrapyard Meadow, notable for its butterflies including small heath, small copper and common blue. Other significant records in recent years have included at least two silver-washed fritillaries in 2006, white admiral and grayling. There have been nearly 30 species of butterfly and over 100 species of moth recorded on site. The introduction of purging blackthorn has assisted in establishing a healthy brimstone population and purple hairstreak are present in small numbers. It is significant for its breeding stock doves, sparrowhawks, green and great spotted woodpeckers, long-tailed tits, goldcrest and a selection of commoner woodland species. A male firecrest was discovered on September 25th 2007, and is still present (Feb 2008) and has been seen in the company of a female on a few occasions. At least 50 species have been recorded since 2005, including a flyover common crane in June 2006.

2008 list: Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mallard, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Robin,Dunnock,Blackbird, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Starling.

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