Local Naturalists

Local naturalists

We are very fortunate to have several local naturalists who have studied Ham Lands for decades.Here are some of them.

Geoff Hyde

Geoff is our guide for both the apple and wildflower walks

Geoff moved to Ham from the Wirral in 1964 and lives overlooking the Lands. He calls them his back garden. He has seen Ham Lands transformed since he moved here, from fly-tipping of builders rubbish to beautiful heaven for humans and wildlife.

He is not a botanist, but the Lands flora inspired Geoff to learn about and appreciate them, and to bring them to the attention of residents and wider. For over 40 years, he has given talks on the Lands to local societies and led wildflower and apples walks. This led to his becoming a judge, Trustee, and later Chairman, of London in Bloom and a committee member of Britain in Bloom. The Bloom experience has made him aware of the need to protect our natural green spaces especially in urban areas as 97% of Britain's original wildflower meadows have now gone. Ham Lands need active protection and preservation.

And thanks to Geoff for his very popular guided wildflower and apples walks. These inspired us to involve other local naturalists and offer more walks. 

Paul Barlett

 Paul helps with writing on our monthly newsletter, giving us seasonal news from Ham Lands 

Paul has lived in the Thames Valley most of his life and has walked on Ham Lands for 55 years!

It was his father started his interest in the Natural World. He became keen on botany during his work as a GP. That other outdoor interests (hiking, general natural history, several kinds of sport).   

Nature became his refuge. To pursue these aims, he has traveled extensively both locally in Surrey, through most of Britain, and worldwide.   

He is an active member of many botanical and wildlife societies, both local and national.

Paul believes strongly that we must make every effort to preserve Ham Lands as a Nature Reserve, now that so much of wildlife are threatened elsewhere.

Diane Bridson

Diane helps with guiding us through the flora of Ham Lands

Diana has lived at Ham for over 50 years and always enjoyed Ham Lands as a tranquil, attractive wild area and valued the rich biodiversity it supports. Over the years she has seen many changes as the Lands have matured.

Diane is an active member of the Friends of Ham Lands and helps with the butterfly conservation work and attends our bimonthly meetings.

Untils 2002, she was employed as a botanist at Kew Gardens specializing in the coffee (or goosegrass) plant family in tropical Africa.

Unsurprising, her particular interest on Ham Lands is the flora, and even though Diane is very knowledgeable she often says she does not claim expertise in all plant groups.

Diane also regularly attend the Wednesday Health Walks at Ham as a leader, backmarker or walker and enjoy sharing our special area with others. 

John Gard

John guides our dawn chorus

John had the good fortune of growing up in Ham and ever since his childhood, he has had an interest in all things wild and has spent many years studying the ups and downs of the wildlife of Ham Lands. John’s main interest is in the bird species.

Paul Cook

Bugs and Butterflies, June 2019, guide by Paul Cook

Paul is a local naturalist with a particular interest in recording the wildlife of Ham and Petersham. He grew up in East Kent where he became interested in butterflies and moths and flowering plants. This extended to an interest in fungi following a spell living in North Wales. In 1994 Paul moved to Ham with the proximity of Ham Lands being one of the main reasons for deciding to live in this part of London.