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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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Saturday Walk: The Deer Herds (Bushy Park)

Saturday Walk: The Deer Herds (Bushy Park)

Friends at Deer Herds Walk

Walk led by Ray Brodie, 22 August 2009

Friends at Deer Herd walk

Ray Brodie, Manager of Bushy Park took 50 of the Friends of Bushy and Home Parks on a walk to find and talk about the deer and their lives in the park. There are approximately 370 deer in Bushy Park; 125 Red Deer – stags and hinds and 245 Fallow – bucks and does.

The most obvious thing about a deer park is the browse line. Ray sometimes tells people that he has an army of workers to clip the trees to make a neat line, but then we saw deer on their hind legs taking off the lower branches.

Deer are, of course, wild animals, and should always be treated with caution, but especially towards the end of May and June when the young are being born. The young are kept hidden in the bracken. The oldest deer in the park is about 15 years old, but they can live to 25. Eventually their teeth wear down and they are unable to eat. The age of the stags was discussed and the myth that the number of points of the antlers defines the animal’s age is not true. In fact age can be determined by the thickness of the antler, but few can get close enough to examine that in detail. Indeed, we were advised not to try.

Ray talked about the annual cull and the reasons for it. The park is just over 1000 acres, over most of which the deer are free to roam. But the land can only support a certain number of healthy animals. They have no natural predators, so a cull is necessary. The game keeper takes out deer throughout the age ranges, to keep a well balanced herd. This year’s cull is due to start in early September and the Royal Parks have a special licence to shoot during the hours of darkness. A high powered rifle and the public wandering about would not be a good mix.

Ray led us through the Crocodile Gate of the Woodland Gardens, passing the new Pheasantry Welcome Centre, which by the time you read this will be open; to the Upper Lodge side and as we went through the gate there was a group of red deer, with one of the yearlings suckling a hind. Another magic moment in the park!

The stock is added to every two or three years, with the introduction of a pair of each species. This keeps the blood line healthy. Animals come from a number of places, one being a similar estate in Norfolk.

Walking over the Red Brick Bridge where Ray explained that deer have been known to sneak under the bridge to get into the Woodland Gardens, we headed back to the Diana Fountain and saw some Fallow deer. There are much shyer than the Red deer, and smaller, so are sometimes difficult to spot. But their rear end is a giveaway with the white and dark patches known as “the target”.

We’d had a good tour of the park and seen both deer, and as always Ray shared with us some of his knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm. A lovely walk in perfect weather too.

Report by Pieter Morpurgo. August 2009

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, 23rd Nov 8:00 pm

The Royal Parks in the Great War. Talk by David Ivison

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.