Discoverers is the Friends of Richmond Park activities programme for families and young people.
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Discoverers Programme 2017

Bugs & Butterflies Isabella

Latest News

LAST EVENT feedback below.

NEXT EVENT Autumn Bat Watch on Saturday eve, 23 September, with Sat 30 as the bad weather alternative. This is a FRP members-only event. Watch for details here and on events page nearer the time. NB This event is very popular.


See Royal Parks website for details of the Mission Invertebrate Project with activities for families in the Park this summer. (e.g. Giant Snail Tour 22-26 July / 1-2 August.)


Join our mailing list for information.

To come - 2017
Saturday Sept. 23 (or 30) Autumn Bat Watch
Sunday November 12 Fungi/Art Workshop

Please note

  • Most Discoverers events are FREE to members of FRP
  • There may be a small charge for non-members
  • Some events may be open to FRP members only
  • All events must be pre-booked

Last event

Isabella Plantation Trail and Picnic, Sunday, 25th June 2017

There were few butterflies and insects to be seen in the Isabella so our families followed a trail of clues around the Plantation instead - after which, some stayed on to picnic. Pictures below!

Feeding time at Peg's Pond

Feeding time at Peg's Pond

Tibetan Cherry Tree?

The beautiful bark of the Tibetan Cherry Tree

Flower of a Tulip tre on Thomson's lawn

Flower of a Tulip Tree on Thomson's lawn

Counting stepping stones

Counting stepping stones

Let's have a closer look

Let's have a closer look

Labyrinth spider web' Spinney

Spotted! a labyrinth spider in its funnel-shaped web

Past Events

Highs and Lows Trail, Sunday 21st May 2017

We were very lucky with the weather and spent the morning in a part of the Park none of us knew well, following a walk based on Susanna Ramsey's Family Trail no. 6. We were learning to identify trees by their leaves, and keeping an eye open for the birds, insects and the odd reptile - we did find a tiny lizard under a log! Our walk started and finished in Pen Ponds car park - very handy for ice creams and drinks!

(NB. The ‘Family Trails’ booklet is still available from the FRP Visitors Centre, price £2.00)

Identifying Trees

Identifying trees

What's under here?

What's under here?

and here?

...and here?

Dark Pond in Tree Box Wood

Dark Pond in Tree Box Wood

Speckled Wood butterfly

Speckled Wood butterfly

A cardinal beetle in Prince Charles' Spinney

A cardinal beetle in Prince Charles' Spinney

Deer in the Park, Sunday 2nd April 2017

After an introductory presention in the Cambrian Community Centre about Richmond Park's famous deer population, Susanna Ramsey (of The Nature Collection) led our Discoverers families into the Park 'on safari'. The children studied ant hills, learned about their importance to Park ecology, and in the life cycle of the Green Woodpecker - and how to recognise Woodpecker poo! Susanna also showed us where owls and kestrels can be seen, how owls are able to fly so silently - and much else. To cap it all, we even came across groups of red deer grazing peacefully!

Trying antlers on for size

Trying antlers on for size

Feel the weight of these

Feel the weight of these

Antlers can weigh up to 5 kg

Antlers can weigh as much as 5 kg

Green Woodpeckers feed on ants

Green Woodpeckers feed on the ants in these ant hills

They eat what?

They eat what?

Aerodynamics of owl feather

Explaining the aerodynamics of an owl feather

A quiet moment to catch up

A quiet moment to catch up

Looking for deer in Conduit Wood

On the look-out for deer in Conduit Wood

Over there!

Over there!



Park in the Dark, Saturday 4th February 2017

The good news was that the sky was clear long enough this time for thirty or so hopeful sky-watchers to look at the First Quarter Moon, with brilliant planets Venus and faint Mars nearby. The bad news was that our guest astronomer, Robin, and his telescope were unable to get to us in time! However, with the help of a smaller telescope, and a large pair of binoculars, we were able to look at Orion's sword stars, and the famous Orion Nebula. We caught tantalising glimpses through clouds of the stunning Pleiades (Seven Sisters) star cluster. But, the main event of the evening was a great view of the International Space Station (ISS) which passed overhead just as we were starting to pack up and leave!

‘Moon Watch’ on Saturday, 12th November 2016

November's Full Moon was a Super Moon Ė closer to Earth than at any time since January 1948. Thirty two children and parents gathered at the Cambrian Community Centre to take a look at our nearest neighbour with the help of the large telescope brought along by our visiting astronomer, Dr. Robin Scagell. However, as so often happens, our weather had other ideas and the skies remained cloud-covered until half-an-hour or so after the end of our session! Very disappointing, still, we learned a lot about our Moon and Robin's telescope was a big hit. We will be giving this event another go early next year!

Dressed for the occasion

Dressed for the occasion

Demonstrating Captured Rotation

Demonstrating Captured Rotation

Image of telescope

Telescope demonstration

looking through telescope eyepiece

Trying the eyepiece

Useful links: Web site for the Society of Popular Astronomy. See
To see the International Space Station viewing times go to
To learn more about Stellarium, the free software you can download to find your way around the night sky, go to

‘Fascinating Fungi’ on Sunday, 23rd October 2016

Fungi are Nature’s recyclers and Autumn is the season when they are at their best - eight Discoverers families enjoyed a most interesting event based at the Holly Lodge Centre. The workshop was led by Janet Bostok helped by Elizabeth and Eleanor, not to mention our team of volunteers. Adults and children alike learned a huge amount about the mysterious Kingdom of the Fungi. This has now become a popular annual event.

Hard at work

Working hard trying to identify the parts of a mushroom

Posing by their find

They've found some!


Found one! Now can you spot it too?

Demonstrating parts of mushroom

Janet shows off a fungus

Bat Watch on October 8th 2016

Our bat watch had to be postponed a week this year, thanks to bad weather. The session was led as usual by Philip Briggs of the London Bat Group and Bat Conservation Trust. Seven families accompanied by the Discoverers' team watched athletic Daubenton's Bats and Common Pipistrelles catching insects at Adams Pond in the park. When it was too dark to see the bats their sounds were picked up on our bat detectors. One family wrote " and informative. Thank you so much and we're we lucky the bats were so busy last night!"

Before the start

Discussions with Philip Briggs before the start

Starting Out

Starting Out

Darkness Falls

Darkness Falls

Watching Bats at Adams Pond

Watching Bats at Adams Pond

Sounds on Bat Detectors

Picking up sounds on the bat detectors

Deer Listening

Are the deer listening too?

Spring Birds Trail on May 8th 2016

Our base was the Holly Lodge Centre's Nature Trail. After a brief introduction, the group set off with Hugh Bradshaw, our expert birder, to see what was out and about on a beautiful spring day.

Talk before walk

Spring Bird Trail - Talk before walk

On the Trail

On the Trail

Looking for Tadpoles

Looking for Tadpoles

Finding a Blackbird's egg

Finding a Blackbird's egg

Birds get up early in the morning to feed. By the time we got going it was their siesta time! Here are photos of some we spotted - can you name them?

Spring Birds 2016 (a)


Spring Birds 2016 (b)


Spring Birds 2016 (c)


Spring Birds 2016 (d)


Spring Birds 2016 (e)


Spring Birds 2016 (f)


(Answers at the end)

‘Bones and Feathers’ Workshop on Sunday, March 20, 2016

Ten families celebrated the first day of Spring, learning about the rich wild life of Richmond Park with Susanna Ramsey and the Nature Collection [link]. After exploring this unique display of animal bones, feathers, antlers and much more, Discoverers had great fun taking apart Barn Owl pellets - the indigestible remains of an owl’s meal, regurgitated by the bird. The task was to reconstruct the skeletons of tiny mammals e.g. voles and field mice!

The Workshop Leader was Susanna Ramsey (of The Nature Collection). Her unique and unforgettable hands-on display of animal bones, feathers, antlers etc., represents the rich wildlife of Richmond Park. Logo

Looking at display

Looking at the display

Dissection begins

Dissection begins

Separating bones from fur

Separating bones from fur

Could be a skull here

Could be a skull here!

After the dissection, some people made pictures and patterns from the bones discovered

Bones say Joe

JOE was here

Bone Art

Bone Art


Bones in motion


Portrait with a difference

This is definitely a workshop we will be repeating next year!

Autumn Bat Watch on Saturday, October 3rd 2015

We had excellent weather for this popular annual event, calm and warm. This meant that there were plenty of bats around in the evening twilight. We saw pipistrelles and Daubentonís bats swooping over the water at Adamís Pond, and picked up their sounds on bat detectors. Here are some pictures:

Bat watching

Watching bats (and swans) on Adam's Pond

Watching bats

Waiting for the bats!

Spring Birds Walk on May 10th 2015

We started off at the Holly Lodge Centre for a short talk about the birds of Richmond Park from our expert, Hugh Bradshaw.

The group then set off into the Park towards Pen Ponds, keeping eyes and ears open.

One of the most interesting sightings was a pair of Great Crested Grebes beginning their courting (see the picture below).

Spring Bird Watch Grebes

A courting pair of Great Crested Grebes on Pen Ponds

Spring Bird Watch Boot Trouble

A spot of boot trouble!

Looking for Skylarks

Looking for Skylarks

Mallard duck and family

Mother Mallard Duck and family

Meet a Tree on April 26th 2015

Here are some pictures taken on a very cold morning spent meeting Park visitors next to one of Richmond Park's oldest Oaks. This particular veteran is an estimated 515 years old.

If you want to prove it for yourself, just measure around its massive trunk with your arms -
an adult 'hug' = about 100 years
a child's 'hug' = about 75 years

Susanna Ramsey's Nature Collection also provided close-up views of some of the Park's bird and insect life dependent on trees like this one for food and shelter.

Meet a Tree Group and Nature Collection
Meet a Tree Measuring
Meet a Tree Checking Measure
Meet a Tree Collection Gazebo

Spring Bird Quiz Answers
(a) Siskin
(b) Wren
(c) Young Nuthatch
(d) Ring (or Rose)-necked Parakeet
(e) Jackdaw
(f) Green Woodpecker in flight

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