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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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Bird Walk

Bird Walk

Adult male Blackcap, courtesey Wikipeida

A walk with Diana Housley, 21st May 2011

In introducing Diana and saying how good the sunshine was, the sun immediately went behind a cloud. This, however, was not to be a bad omen for the morning. Diana explained that due to the extraordinarily warm weather, birds and the trees were more advanced than one might expect at this time of year. The leaf coverage would make bird spotting a little tricky.

Leaving the Welcome Centre, 45 of us followed Diana into the Woodland Gardens, where there were Crows and Jackdaws. The Crows tend to stay in the park while the Jackdaws with their silvery heads roost outside the park and return during the day.

Crossing Duck Bridge, we found Mallards and three pairs of Mandarin Duck, who had escaped from captivity, and have been breeding successfully in the park for some years. Passing Triss’s Pond there were Coots and Moorhens nesting. The Moorhens tend to make their nest under cover near the banks, while the Coots make theirs in the more open water. Coots are the ones with the white patch on their heads, hence the expression “bald as a Coot”. There was a family of Egyptian Geese. The five goslings were hatched in their nest in a tree and jump or fall to the ground as downy babies. They are light and fluffy and bounce, so none seemed too upset by the experience and were growing well as they came up close to us to see if we had any food to offer. They have been nesting in the park for the past ten to fifteen years, although the 18th century painting of the Water Gardens clearly shows Egyptian Geese, but they will have been captive birds or maybe that was just artistic licence.

We heard and saw a Blackcap, with its beautiful flute like sound. It is the male that sings, while the female has a more discreet brown cap. Its sound was followed by the familiar screech of the Ring-necked Parakeet – what a difference! A female Chaffinch was feeding in the leaf litter under a Rhododendron bush. Very difficult to see, but Diana was expert in describing where to find it.

In Ash Walk Diana pointed out a hole in a tree where she had seen a Nuthatch a couple of days before, so we waited patiently and had great views of the couple feeding their young, although they were still hidden in the nest, it was clear that they were quite big as the adults were unable to get into the nest.

Through into Water House Gardens we heard Long-tailed Tits and some Chiffchaff, perhaps the easiest sound to identify as it sounds exactly as the name suggests; there was a Robin about and Blackbirds and Blue Tits. With no plane noise, we spent a few moments just standing and listening to the orchestra around us. We passed a nest box where a couple of Great Tits were feeding their young. There are many nest boxes in the gardens and twenty of them are made of sawdust and cement to stop the Woodpeckers from raiding the nests.

In a pond near the Willow Plantation a young Grey Heron was standing patiently, and then on cue stabbed for its breakfast.

From Dukes’ Head Passage Diana hoped that we might see a Hobby, but not today, however a Whitethroat made an appearance, and a swift look at a Swallow as it sped overhead. They are nesting in the Stockyard.

Walking back over the grassland there were Skylarks, Green Woodpeckers and a large flock of – maybe fifty – Starlings.

We all had a wonderful walk in glorious weather led by Diana, whose expertise and enthusiasm she shared with us all. Very many thanks to her and might we hope for another Bird Walk in the future – maybe next time a Winter Walk?

Pieter Morpurgo, May 2011

Why we need more Friends

With more members our voice is stronger when we campaign to protect the Parks, and with more subscription income we can do more to provide information and education about the Parks, their wildlife and their history.

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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.