by Pierre Rousset
Parc des Beaumonts
Location : Montreuil (93) – it borders Fontenay-sous-Bois (94)
Surface Area : 24 hectares
Entrances : avenue Jean Moulin, rue des Charmes, rue des Quatre Ruelles, rue Paul Doumer.
Métro Mairie de Montreuil (line 9) : 10-15 mn on foot
Bus 122, stop Collège Jean Moulin
Bus 127, stop Les Beaumonts ou Danton
The parc des Beaumonts is situated on the southern border of the Romainville plateau. With a maximum altitude of 109 m, it stands roughly forty metres above the town center of Montreuil. It is an integral part of the Natura 2000 zone covering the green spaces of the Seine-Saint-Denis region. Since July 2018, its maintenance has come under the auspices of Est Ensemble (a public body governing the territory) with a view to enhancing the park's biodiversity. Because of its easy access (close to the métro) the site is followed by naturalists either from, or working for, the Natural History Museum. A Scientific Advisory Board has been formed, which works in tandem with Est Ensemble.
The park offers a diversity of open spaces, which contributes to a rich and varied avifauna, rare for a small park so firmly embedded within an urban environment. The northern section of the plateau takes the classic form of an urban park. The "natural" southern section presents a more rural landscape, with a protected area at its heart which, in addition to beehives, is home to a pair of cattle and a dozen goats (hardy breeds) from spring to autumn. Woodland covers the slopes and the edge of the plateau, the oldest trees being found on the southern slope (parc Mabille).
Former quarries have been filled in with waste of all kinds (bottom ash, construction fill, crushed rock, sand and ash from household waste incineration, etc.). Abandoned for a time, the plateau's current "natural zone" has twice been redeveloped, including the creation of a small wetland.
In spring several pairs of Whitethroats and Garden Warblers regularly breed along with at least one pair of Mistle Thrush and Sparrowhawk. Reed Warbler is a species that has benefited from the creation of the small wetland, and will now breed occasionally. On the other hand, an intervention made necessary by the afforestation of the central fallow land has (temporarily?) destroyed the associated habitat of Nightingale and Melodious Warbler. Tree Sparrows nested up until 1998, and Stonechats until 2004. Cirl Buntings have also disappeared, along with Skylarks and Meadow Pipits which were present as breeding species some twenty years ago.
Migration is studied regularly, and the nocturnal sound-recordings of migrants began in 2019. Very visible from afar the park appears as a small green island in a vast urban landscape. Many migrating birds make stopovers here, including some larger raptors which occasionally land on site to roost for the night. Among the more uncommon species recorded are Hoopoe, Kingfisher, Wryneck, Black Woodpecker, Golden Oriole, Red-backed Shrike and Sedge Warbler. Some real rarities have been recorded, most notably Red-rumped Swallow, Olive-backed Pipit and Dusky Warbler.
In winter the park serves as a reliable food-source for all the local birdlife. In some years, flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing, even Hawfinch and Brambling, will be present. In the past it was also home flocks of Tree Sparrows (moving between Beaumonts and the nearby Bois de Vincennes) but this is sadly no longer the case. Middle Spotted Woodpecker is another occasional visitor, but hard to find.
The site has been regularly birdwatched since 1993 (there are also some older records). Almost 200 species have been recorded - these are detailed on the following link : http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article5414
The park is rich in amphibians and lepidopterans, and interesting for its molluscs, bats and various families of insects. On the other hand, it is poor for reptiles and also for mushrooms, since there are no beech trees, no oaks (apart from a few young shoots) and no lime, hornbeam or pine. In the "natural zone", the environment is constantly evolving, with an unfortunate tendency to "close in" on the areas of wetland (reedbeds) and countryside (Japanese knotweed, maple, black locust, etc.) which in turn leads to a loss of biodiversity. Its management requires continuous monitoring, with any decision favouring certain taxa over others. In this, the role of the Scientific Advisory Board is decisive.