Bushy Park, London

  • February 26, 2017 7:33 pm

A squadron of green arrows cuts through the blue of the sky, noisy screeches rain down from these lime feathered parakeets. It seems so exotic, and we gawp in touristy awe, but there’s a delight in seeing a parrot fly free when previously I’ve only ever seen them caged. No, I’m not on a foreign holiday, though it suddenly feels like it, we are in our capital city, visiting my lovely brother-in-law, who kindly takes us to visit Bushy Park. I’ve never seen (or heard!) so many parakeets before, but they are surprisingly camera shy, apart from the odd group flying over in formation, they stick to the treetops, patrolling the upper branches.

Our first stop is the lake, where many people feed the ducks, and in amoungst the Mallards we also find some Red-crested Pochard, a handsome, if non-native duck with a striking russet crest, and a brilliant red bill.

Red-crested pochard, Netta rufina, Bushy Park, London

There are Tufted ducks too, lovely little ducks, black and white at first glance, but with a gorgeous purple sheen in the right light.

Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula, male, Bushy Park, London

Keeping the waterfowl company were lots of Black-headed gulls, some of them already starting to gain their breeding plumage in the warmth of the city.

Black-headed gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, perched on wooden post Bushy Park, London

The park is well known for its herds of Red and Fallow deer, and we quickly spot two Fallow bucks casually strolling down the path. Although very used to people, these deer have a wildness about them, they are not friendly like the Sika deer we saw in Nara, Japan. We remain at a wary distance, although other people attempt to get closer, alarmingly so as one parent attempts to introduce their young child to a huge Red deer stag, still with full antlers. The deer continues to graze, but a little shake of the head is enough to make the people retreat to a more sensible distance. The deer are wary too, a loose French bulldog sends one of the Fallow bucks pronking away into the bracken with tail raised, wild instinct remembering the wolf.

It’s lovely too see and study them this closely though, deer of all species have a very majestic air about them, especially the handsome Reds.

Red deer, Cervus elaphus, stag, male, close up, Bushy Park, London,

RedDeer180217DM5416

Red deer, Cervus elaphus, stag, male, close up, Bushy Park, London,

The Fallow deer are smaller with palmate, flattened antlers. We later found the rest of the Fallow herd, as the light was fading, which contained white coated animals, as well as individuals that were almost black, the Fallow deer being highly variable in colour. These two bucks were clearly used to posing for people!

Fallow deer, Dama dama, buck, male, backlit in evening light, Bushy Park, London.

Fallow deer, Dama dama, buck, male, two in evening light, Bushy Park, London.

Fallow deer, Dama dama, buck, male, backlit in evening light, Bushy Park, London.

It was inspiring to visit a slice of the wild in the middle of the city, were it not for the hum of traffic, you could easily have been in the middle of the countryside. Good too, to see so many people out and enjoying it, a very special place.

 

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Slavonian Grebe

  • January 25, 2013 6:38 pm

Out practising with the new lens today, and decided to head to the fine city of Norwich. More specifically, Whitlingham Country Park. Despite being close to the hustle and bustle of the city, the park often attracts our more unusual winter wildlife. The local waterfowl proved to be great target training.

Mute Swan, Cygnus olor, adult preening, close up, graceful, Norfolk, Winter

A serene Mute Swan, that is, until it tries to steal your Jaffa cake… (don’t ask!)

Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula, female, swimming, Norfolk, Winter

Tufted duck, Aythya fuligula, female, swimming, Norfolk, Winter

These female Tufted ducks were more confiding than the black and white males.

Then I spotted the star of the show. Small, grey with a startling red eye. A first for me – an overwintering Slavonian Grebe.

Slavonian Grebe, Podiceps auritus, Norfolk, Winter, UK

There is a very small breeding population in the UK, but they are more often seen in the winter months around our coasts.

Slavonian Grebe, Podiceps auritus, Norfolk, Winter, UK

Slavonian Grebe, Podiceps auritus, Norfolk, Winter, UK

Slavonian Grebe, Podiceps auritus, Norfolk, Winter, UK

He seemed quite content feeding with the other larger birds, often getting lost in the throng, and lost to view. It was bitterly cold lying on the frozen ground waiting for him to resurface, but still great to watch a bird I’ve never seen before. Despite the fluffy appearance he never seemed to get wet!

The snow hasn’t cleared yet, providing a nice reflected uplighting in the dull conditions.

Greylag goose, Anser anser, feeding in snow, Norfolk, Winter

 
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