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Chair’s Welcome

I am delighted as Chair of the Friends to welcome you to our website. Bushy Park and Home Park are two wonderful large green oases in the south west corner of London. Feeling wild, they are natural places with ancient histories, fascinating heritage and superb wildlife. Both are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) containing rare species. These are places to be enjoyed and conserved. Which is why the Friends exist, campaigning, supporting and protecting the parks, and enhancing visitors’ enjoyment with information, advice and guidance.

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Deer Talk at Market House, Kingston

with Ray Brodie, 17th April 2008

This was a joint evening talk organised by the Friends of Richmond Park together with the Friends of Bushy & Home Parks. The event was part of a highly successful two-week Market House Festival organised by Marilyn Mason. Starting earlier than our usual talks it was well attended by both groups.

There were three speakers Ray Brodie, Manager of Bushy Park, Simon Richards, Manager of Richmond Park and Chris Howard of the British Deer Society.

We are so familiar with our own deer in Bushy Park that it’s easy to forget that less than two miles away there roams another equally spectacular herd in Richmond Park. A reminder of this wealth of local wildlife came at this ‘Deer Evening’ held in the Market House at Kingston in April.

Though the deer herd that Bushy Park manager Ray Brodie has to look after in his thousand acres is half the size of Richmond Park’s, numbering 125 red deer and 335 fallows, the problems he faces in looking after them are similar to those of Richmond Park’s manager Simon Richards: combining wildlife interests with those of human visitors; deterring deer from ring-barking and ruining young trees; clearing litter and preventing dogs from running wild. There are calls from members of the public who have found ‘abandoned’ baby deer (which of course are not abandoned at all).

There was even, said Ray, a call last summer from a visitor who wanted to know how Park gardeners found the time to prune all the chestnut trees to give them the tidy ‘browse line’. In both parks the herds have to be controlled by annual culling. However, in Bushy Park males are culled in September and females in November, unlike the normal Richmond Park pattern of a female cull in November and a male cull in February.

The evening had started with an informative talk on the distribution and behaviour of deer across Britain by Chris Howard of the British Deer Society. Used as we are to our familiar red deer and fallow deer, neither species is, Chris explained, the commonest of those that are native to Britain or so well established here as to be regarded as naturalised. That distinction belongs to the shy roe deer, known in Britain since the Middle Ages and numerous in woodland and upland areas.

Then there are the Muntjac, a sharp-toothed killer whose ferocity belies its small size, the Sika which was introduced to Brownsea Island in 1896 but swam ashore and colonised the south coast, and the Chinese Water Deer which escaped from Woburn Park and flourishes in the Fens.

Among the fascinating facts about deer behaviour given by Chris Howard are the amazing power of their senses: deer can see at a mile, and angle their ears separately to pick up sounds from different directions.

They spend three to four hours eating every day, but in between they need to pause to chew their regurgitated food, which is why it is important not to disturb deer when they seem to be at rest. Simon Richards, Richmond Park manager, told us about the history of Britain’s deer parks, the fact that in Victorian times Britain exported deer to New Zealand to start herds there, and that during the Second World War Richmond Park’s deer population shrank to just 77.

There was a lively question-and-answer session involving all three speakers. The perennial question of what happens to a deer’s antlers after they are shed seemed to be a mystery to all of them.

The evening ended with refreshments and a chance to chat to another Friends group. Michael Davison & Pieter Morpurgo, June 2008

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Walks & Talks

Forthcoming event

Thursday, 21st Sep 6:22 pm

Nature trail in the Woodland Gardens

Latest report

A perimeter walk of Home Park led by Nicholas Garbutt was enjoyed by over 45 people on 2nd September.Walk in Home Park- 2nd September

Full report...

Information Point

The Information Point next to the Pheasantry Welcome Centre café is where our volunteers help visitors to find out more about the parks and where visitors can purchase souvenirs of your visit to support our work.

Click this panel to visit our Information Point section and also to find out how you can get involved as a volunteer.