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Park of the Month - June 2024
Warren Farm Nature Reserve

What better time than June to explore one of Ealing's nature reserves that is rich in its flora and fauna- in fact one of a handful of meadow habitats left across the UK.  This lovely area is home to over a hundred species of birds including the skylark, and is a very important site for many species of flora and fauna. Many thanks to the Warren Farm team and its Trustees for providing this wealth of information.

About Warren Farm Nature Reserve

Warren Farm is a rewilded 61-acre urban meadow in Ealing and part of Brent River Park (BRP) located in Norwood Green. This beautiful green space is home to an abundance of common, rare and endangered species in what is today a beautiful and vital Grassland and Wildflower habitat. There are less than 2% of meadow habitats like this left across the whole of the UK which makes Warren Farm a vital biodiversity gain not just for Ealing, but for the country as a whole.  

 

History

At the very beginning, Warren Farm would have been primaeval marshy woodland cleared by early humans. During the Bronze Age and Iron Age workings on the land have been evidenced by English Heritage and by the Elizabethan Period, Warren Farm was a tenancy of the Osterley Park Estate. The estate was owned by Sir Thomas Gresham, who opened one of Britain’s first paper mills in the 1570s by the River Brent, the remnants of which can still be seen today by visiting the adjourning ancient woodland, Long Wood. 

In 1805, Osterley Park came into the ownership of George Child-Villiers, 5th Earl of Jersey and in the Victorian period, Warren Farm was (as the name suggests!) a working farm run by George Trumper and his family. George opposed the Trumpers Crossing Halt train station that was introduced as an idea in the 1850s but that was later built in 1904. The nearby road named Trumper’s Way that leads to one of four entrances to Warren Farm and one of the adjourning Brent River Park Meadows named Trumper’s Field is named after the Trumper family.

In 1925, the Countess of Jersey sold Warren Farm to the London County Council (LCC) for sports usage, but the Depression and World War II disrupted these plans and Warren Farm was run as a farm by the local St Bernard’s Psychiatric Hospital until 1961 which you can still see today where Ealing Hospital now sits by walking along the canal tow path. 

In the 1960s, LCC and its successor body ILEA (Inner London Education Authority) used the land as a variety of sports pitches for schoolchildren and clubs until 1990 when the ILEA dissolved and Warren Farm was passed to the London Borough of Ealing (LBE). Later, a children’s day centre were based there and the Warren Farm Radio Flyers still fly their planes on Warren Farm today. The site was left to go into disrepair and past campaign groups fought long and hard to keep the land in the public domain over a number of years in which time the land had 15 years to rewild with incredible results that can be very much enjoyed and seen here today. After a campaign by the Brent River & Canal Society charity who formed the Brent River Park, Ealing Council have agreed to give all of Warren Farm Nature Reserve and surrounding meadows official Local Nature Reserve designation celebrated by a petition that accrued 25,800 supporters and high profile support from a number of notable wildlife organisations, charities and individuals Kabir Kaul, Chris Packham, Iolo Williams, Dr Amir Khan, Megan McCubbin, Lucy Lapwing and many more.  

Wildlife

Reasons to Visit

A walk around Warren Farm Nature Reserve is like stepping into the countryside with it’s wide open expanse being one of the least light polluted areas in Ealing, with impressive skies and cloudscapes, with visitors coming to enjoy it as a known beauty spot for beautiful sunrises and sunsets. The rewilded urban meadow is surrounded by trees including ancient Oak Trees and hedgerow is at its peak during the Spring and Summer seasons bursting with wildlife and colour. During the Autumn and Winter fungi can be found and the meadow is mown with plant materials being taken off the land and reused to produce green energy. During these Winter months visitors can walk across the entire site as the Skylarks will have finished breeding.

Warren Farm Nature Reserve is an ecological jewel bursting with plant species including an abundance of native Wildflowers and Grasses which are ecologically hugely beneficial for our sadly declining insect populations, as insects have evolved alongside these Native Wildflowers over centuries. Among the meadow’s rarer plant species are UK red-listed Clovers and the Copse Bindweed to name a few, a plant which is facing both local and UK wide extinction, with Warren Farm Nature Reserve being one of only two recorded sites in which this vulnerable plant grows in London.

 

During Spring you can see the red blush sweeping across some areas of the meadow, this is Sheep’s Sorrel and also smell the delightful musky scent of Ladies Bedstraw, a plant indeed once used to stuff straw mattresses, particularly those of women about to give birth. Every plant has a story to tell, plays a vital role in attracting all the insects, mammals and birds here and are super beneficial to the health and well-being of us humans too! 

Home to Skylarks! And other Birds and Animals

With over 100 different species of bird recorded the site is fantastic place to go bird watching to see our feathered friends. Birds include UK red-listed Skylarks with their beautiful trilling melodic song. Warren Farm NR is home to over a quarter of London’s Skylark population and is the only site in Ealing where they can be seen and heard. Skylarks nest on the ground and so when visiting it is important during the bird breeding season for visitors and their dog friends to please keep to the paths so as not to inadvertently harm or destroy Skylark eggs and chicks. Other birds include Barn Owls silently hunting at night are a magical spot, characterful Little Owls are also a well-loved favourite here, hovering Kestrels, Meadow Pipits, Peregrine Falcons, House Sparrows, Starlings, Mistle Thrushes, Green Woodpeckers who will be laughing at you before you see them and the site even had a fantastic migrating Wryneck visit once, the Wryneck being a bird that is known as a ‘lifer’ in the birding community as in you will be lucky to see one in your lifetime - to highlight just a few! 

Warren Farm NR supports an astonishing array of insect species with new discoveries being made all the time by visitors! From the Red-Listed Beewolf to the Yarrow Pug and Ivy Bee. Butterflies include 4 different Hairstreak species, art-deco looking Marbled whites and Orange-tips, with so many more exciting finds yet to record in this area.

Arachnid records include the Thanatus striatus, which was a first record for this spider in Middlesex recorded in the brownfield area of the site. 

Species of Bats at night can be recorded using bat detectors darting overhead and mammals including Field Voles, Yellow-necked Mice, Weasels, Foxes, Hedgehogs have been spotted. Amphibians like Common Toads, Smooth Newts and Reptiles such as the beautiful harmless golden Slow-worm all thrive here. 

Warren Farm Nature Reserve is a wonderful place to get some headspace, take a walk or run around its paths, sit and listen to it’s singing Skylarks and take in the beautiful wildflowers and vast expance and skyscapes. Soon this amazing rewilded meadow will be receiving Local Nature Reserve designation which will safeguard it for future generations. A very special and magical place indeed. 

How to Get Here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Warren Farm Nature Reserve, Southall UB2 4NE

Please read the signs at the entrance to the site which shows the map and times of year visitors are requested to keep to the paths 1st March – 15th September.

By Tube: Nearest Tube Stations are Osterley and Boston Manor

By Train: Elizabeth Line to Hanwell,

By Bus: 92, 195, 207, 607, N207

By Car: Warren Farm can be accessed by parking near the entrance  (limited parking) or drive to the Hare and Hounds the pub in Windmill Lane (but please do pop in and have a coffee or a meal if doing this) - come out of the car park, turn right and walk under the bridge, walk past the entrance to Long Wood on your right and keep walking until you reach Warren Farm, OR you can also access by walking through Long Wood. Another nice pub to start or end your walk is The Fox Inn on Green Lane.

You can also walk from or park near Trumpers Way and walk over bridge c. 20 minute walk.

Please note that Warren Farm by its nature is not easily accessible for wheelchairs etc. due to the ground and unmade up paths.

 

WarrenFarmNatureReserve.co.uk 

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