Bushy Park in London is the second largest of the
Royal Parks, covering 445 hectares of flat land. It's home to quite an array of
wildlife including Red and Fallow Deer. There's also some great bird life.
Park at twilight.|
Photo - Andrew Davies and Royal Parks
north of Hampton Court Palace, the park was originally owned by Cardinal Wolsey
but was taken over by Henry VIII when Wolsey fell out of favour.
has been a Royal Park ever since and dates back hundreds of years, with traces
of what has been called the most complete medieval field system in Middlesex found
on the site.
There's also a rather majestic display of trees fit for a king
- the Chestnut Avenue, a mile-long row of Chestnut and Lime trees lining the approach
to William and Mary's palace at Hampton Court.
History aside, the park
is home to some wonderful wildlife, including 320 free-roaming Red and Fallow
deer, three species of native Woodpeckers, frogs, toads and newts and a host of
different domestic birds.
Eyes and ears
a location only a few miles away from Heathrow, the sounds which can be heard
at Bushy are far from the roar of passing planes.
In fact, the noise heard
most often here is the trill of the Skylark and the tap-tap-tap of the Woodpecker.
are three species of Woodpecker living here, the most striking of which is the
Green Woodpecker with its distinctive green and cream plumage.
here in large numbers due to an abundance of their favourite food - ants.
are ant hills all over the place, but they're not the only insects which attract
the many different British birds.
The 130 hectares of undisturbed acid grassland
is an important habitat for crickets, spiders, caterpillars, butterflies, bees,
wasps and flies, all of which are rich pickings for the 150 species of birds which
also call Bushy Park their home.
Among the long list of birds found here
are Skylark, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit and Stonechat, all of which are limited
in numbers and nest on the ground where they are sometimes disturbed by walkers
and people with dogs - so watch where you step!
interesting geography of Bushy Park has helped many different types of wildlife
settle in here over the years - particularly the many deer which can still be
seen here today.
Back in the 15th Century Henry VIII decided to enclose
the park within a wall to protect the existing deer from poachers and to create
an ideal site for Royal hunting.
The park has remained enclosed since then
and while London has built up around its walls, the park has preserved a beautiful
open space and some much-needed greenery.
Today there are 320 Red and Fallow
Deer which graze here, helping to maintain the landscape by encouraging plant
diversity and without damaging the many anthills which crop up.
can be told apart easily by differences in their coats and size - Fallow Deer
have creamy-brown spotty coats and are slightly smaller than the russety-brown
Both species have become accustomed to a constant human presence
so they're easy to watch and not easily startled, although visitors are still
reminded to observe the same behaviour as they would at any other nature site.
it's not just the walls which have affected the wildlife - running through the
heart of the park is the artificial Longford River, serving the pond habitat with
a constant supply of water.
The Longford River started life as a huge canal
created by King Charles I in 1637, who wanted to impress his European counterparts
with a water garden.
river now feeds a series of ponds where huge shoals of spined sticklebacks can
be seen darting about beneath the water's surface.
Birds like Herons and
Kingfishers can sometimes be seen at the water's edge, watching their prey.
with their beautiful blue and orange plumage, need to catch as many as 150 fish
a day to feed their young, so these ponds are a vital source of food.
it's not just Kingfishers which feed on Stickleback - there's another equally
deadly predator to watch out for, in the unlikely form of the yellow leech.
attach themselves to the sides of the fish, causing them to thrash about near
the surface trying to shake them off. This is called flashing and is quite a sight!
may also be lucky enough to spot a Water Vole in the river, or one of seven native
bat species in the woodland gardens.
copyright and by kind permission of Andrew Davies and Royal Parks.