Spectacular carved benches have been unveiled at a wildlife haven in Whitton, which a new survey shows is attracting more visitors than ever.
Three wooden seats, featuring designs including a giant stag beetle and a heron greedily eyeing up two fish, were introduced at Crane Park, running along the River Crane between Twickenham and Hanworth, this winter.
The benches, funded by the Rugby Football Union and Mereway Road residents and carved by Paul Sivell, are the latest in a series of 12 benches featuring the park's inhabitants.
They were installed as a survey by the Friends of the River Crane Environment (FORCE) showed more than 1,500 people visited the park, jointly managed by Hounslow and Richmond councils, on a single Sunday in January - more per hour than at the height of summer 18 months ago.
According to the friends group, 1,500 people visited the 33 hectare park at Meadway, Twickenham, with 1,200 of those extending their visit to the east to Kneller Gardens and 400 to the west to Dragonfly Terrace, near Crane Park Island nature reserve.
The numbers per hour were 23 per cent higher than those recorded at a previous survey in summer 2012, the group said, despite the dismal weather so far this year.
FORCE chairman Rob Gray said: "Our latest survey confirms that Crane Park is an all-year-round asset very much valued by the local community. More and more people are enjoying the riverside environment.
"Even in the depths of winter, hundreds of people – families with children, cyclists, dog-walkers – take advantage of the high-quality open spaces afforded by the Crane.
“As the boroughs' populations grow, these green spaces will become increasingly important and valuable to residents. The councils' spending on cycleways and other improvements pays off handsomely. FORCE is pleased to work with them, and has just installed another three carved wooden benches to improve the attractiveness of the park."
The visitor numbers are the latest boost for the park, which made an excellent recovery since thousands of fish were killed by a sewage release in 2011.