Flora and Fauna

East Sheen Common is a good example of relatively young, developing woodland. Until the late 19th century grazing on the Common kept the trees down, and the Ordnance Survey map of 1895 shows very few mature trees. Except for the amenity section, the Common is almost completely wooded. The dominant tree is oak (Quercus robur) with scattered ash (Fraxinus excelsior), beech (Fagus sylvatica), sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), birch (Betula pendula & B.pubesecens), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and a few Spanish chestnut (Castanea sativa). There is an understorey tree and shrub layer of hazel (Corylus avellana), rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), whitebeam (Sorbus aria), laburnum (Laburnum anagyroides), elder (Sambucus nigra), hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) and gorse (Ulex europaeus). There is also dense-growing evergreen holly (Ilex aquifolium) and young seedlings of Norway maple (Acer platanoides) and beech.

The ground layer is sparse and often dominated by ivy or it may be absent owing to the dense shade or intense human activity. There is bramble, dandelion, lesser celandine, a few grasses and cow parsley. The majority of the ground herb layer consists broadly of three main types – bare leaf litter; thick cover of mixed ivy, bracken and bramble; and this same mix under a thicket of saplings.  The ground is mainly even but in the North West a 19th century gravel recovery has left humps and hollows, some of which form damp patches.  The highest point in the South West corner is about 30m and the lowest North West corner is about 15m above datum.

For more information on the flora and fungi of East Sheen Common please refer to LBRuT’s survey; the ‘Flora & Fungus Survey of East Sheen Common’ by Jamie Simpson, F. Nigel Hepper and Alick Henrici  insert link or the survey carried out by Paul Losse in 2012  insert link

A number of dying birch trees, which are short-lived species, provide valuable habitat for Greater Spotted Woodpeckers and fungus. The standing deadwood on this site also provides ideal habitats for bats. The wooded and boundary areas are home to many common bird species including Blackcap, Blackbirds, Wrens, Robins and Song thrushes, which nest on this site. The latter is a Red Listed species. Ring-necked parakeets are an invasive species native to southern Asia and can also be seen on the Common. Less common, and more difficult to spot, are Goldcrests and Firecrests.  For a full schedule of the birds to be found refer to the survey carried out by Jan Wilczur in 2011. insert link

The Common is also home to many species of butterfly including the Holly Blue (not surprisingly as its larvae feed on the holly in the Spring), Skippers, Brimstones, Whites and Speckled Wood.  For further information refer to the Report by Tony Moore in 2015  insert link

There are many other insects to be found including the Stag Beetle, and the pond is an important breeding area for the Common Frog and the Common Toad.  Foxes roam the area particularly at night but also occasionally during the day and Badgers forage on the Common at night, and use it as a route to the adjacent gardens, though as far as is known there are no setts on the Common.

There are a number of species of bat to be found feeding on and around the Common, in particular the Common and Soprano Pippistrelles, though we do not know whether they roost there.  However other species are known to roost in Richmond Park and it is likely therefore that they will be found from time to time on the Common