Now that the antlers are fully grown, the ‘velvet’ covering becomes redundant. It dies and shreds and the deer thrash their antlers against vegetation to rub it off. At this time they may be seen briefly with blood stained tatters of skin dangling across their faces. This is especially so with the fallow bucks.
The grey squirrel is an introduced species and although it does not have natural predators, it is pretty good at defending itself and scurrying out of harm’s way into the tree canopy.
In mid-late summer the grey squirrel has the destructive habit of stripping bark off trees, causing young trees to die and older trees to lose branches.
This naturally-occurring algae reaches its peak ‘bloom’ during August in the Diana Fountain and in Bushy Park’s ponds. Its long filaments are floating in the water and can create a scum of algae blown by the wind to collect along one bank.
By now we should have seen signs of the first migrants on the southerly journey to their wintering grounds in Southern Europe or Africa. It might be hard to tell a migrant Common Whitethroat from one that has bred in the park but once you see the first Willow Warblers arriving you’ll know that migrants are on the move.
For those who live close to, or choose to visit the park in the evenings there should be a noticeable increase in the numbers of Swifts, Swallows and House Martins feeding on the insects that take to the air. Swifts will be heading off to Africa before the end of the month, but they and the Hirundines had better be on the alert or they could fall victim to our local masters of the air - the Peregrine Falcon and the Hobby.
From the middle of the month it is worth checking the first 100 metres of scrub that runs north of Dukes Head Passage. It may be behind the fence but this gives the birds more confidence and they can feed without being disturbed. Here it is possible to see Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher amongst good numbers of other warblers.
The area of small hawthorn that surrounds the aptly named Hawthorn Cottage is another area worth checking for migrants. At this time of year the fence on the eastern side can provide a sheltered hawking perch for flycatchers or even better a sight of the quivering red tail of a Common Redstart.
This being one of the best months for migrants you never know what could be waiting for you.
For more bird news check out www.regentsparkbirds.blogspot.com (it also covers Bushy Park).
- By Tony Duckett
The Woodland Gardens
The weeds are growing at a furious pace thanks to the warm weather and plentiful rain so the gardeners and volunteers are up against it this month.
Volunteers have been weeding in the Crocodile Glade, where Green Alkanet and Spurge have taken over the beds. They’ve also given Duck Island a bit of a makeover, weeding and removing the unattractive black plastic membrane. Canada Glade has also received some attention from volunteers who have cleared the weed re-growth.
On Triss’s Island, we’ve found some evergreen Azaleas buried under the brambles. We’ve cleared that area now to allow sunlight in so the existing plants can recover. We’ll add more plants in between to fill in the gaps.
The Gardens are tidying up the stream sides and the Bog Garden.