Tuesday, 25 September 2007

The park over the road in Autumn

Heron yawning

I've didn't realize until I looked at this picture closely that the heron was showing its tongue. I watched it stalking fish in the shallows for a while. Its ability to stand immobile is impressive.


It was amazing to watch this jackdaw ridding the deer of unwanted parasites. It worked its way along the haunches and up the spine before finally inspecting the deer's ear for bugs. A starling was doing much the same on another deer close by.

A view from Bushy Park

Bushy Park is a fabulous Royal Park which was part of Henry VIII's Hampton Court Palace estate. Deer roam the large open areas and there are two lovely woodland gardens which have attractive water features and plenty of wildlife. The shrieking of dozens of wild parakeets ring through the trees, especially at roosting time giving the park an exotic feel.

A fallow deer cross the Longford River

The deer sometimes canter through the streams but I've also seen them congregate in the wide and shallow areas 'messing about' in the water, just like kids.

Sly fox

Lunchtime in the park and the pair of young foxes are brave enough to be seen in daylight. This one is particularly brave, and I thought foxes were nocturnal!

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Autumn is in the air

Rowers near Molesey Lock in the early morning light

There's a definite feel of autumn these mornings, with mists on the river and that lovely golden haze as the sun filters through. The leaves on the horse chestnut trees are turning contributing their colour to the gentle morning light.

A young fox in Bushy Park

I've spent weeks trying to photograph the foxes in the park but they've always been camera shy. This youngster was cautious but curious and I was able to take a few pictures of it before it slunk away into the undergrowth.

The brother or sister of the youngster above

I was so excited about seeing the fox and when I spoke to a couple, who were also transfixed by the sleek and healthy looking youngster, they told me there were two to look out for. As the weather was brilliant the next day I headed back to the park and was fortunate enough to enjoy the company of the two young foxes for around 20 minutes. At first they were cautious but after a while they settled and ran around looking for food. It was quite magical to watch them chasing each other, sitting and scratching, slinking into the bushes when other people approached and then reappearing when the coast was clear.

A deer in Bushy Park

On the way back from watching the foxes I saw this deer trot through the main park. It is approaching the rutting season and I must get back to photograph the antics of the stags as they try to hold together their harems.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

The new black swan flexes its muscles

The new arrival shows aggression towards the mute swans

We don't know whether this is a male or female black swan but it isn't popular with our dominant pair of mute swans, nor with Bidou, our resident female black swan. The mute swans used to see off Bidou in the Spring but over the months they seem to have almost accepted her. They all turn up to feed together but Bidou isn't allowed to feed from the same area as the family.

Seeing off the opposition

There have been several battles this week between the newcomer and the mute swans. It seems so aggressive that we think it might be a male. It also has a thicker neck than Bidou and holds it more erect.

The newcomer chases the cob

Another day another battle! This time the mute swan came off the worse for wear. The battle was fierce and ended up under our boat and we had to break it up. The vanquished slunk away to our feeding station looking quite shaken.

The victor with one of the mute swan's feathers in its beak

After the battle, the black swan stood on our floating raft and seemed rather pleased with itself. It still had a white feather in its beak but shortly after, started preening and the feather disappeared.

Bidou takes exception to the newcomer

It's official. Bidou doesn't like the new black swan and has spent most of this week chasing it away. On Thursday she went after it twice in succession and then rejoined the mute swan family, as close as she's allowed that is. She kept calling, using a single note, while the newcomer trumpeted away at her sounding forlorn!

One of the cygnets enjoys an early evening preen after supper

Most evenings, the swans come for supper and then linger close by to have a final wash and brush up before bed. It's hard to believe how much the pair have grown since the Spring but they're not independent yet.

A male tufted duck looking bright eyed

He's probably one of this year's offspring as his white areas are still a little grey and his tuft is quite short. I love the rounded shape of the tufted ducks and the way they lie on their sides to clean their tummies.