Hedge laying on Dukes Head Passage
In January 2013 work started to improve Dukes Head Passage for those using it as their entry into the park.
Our first starting point was the area at the western end, which was quite dark and gloomy. We thinned this out and will hopefully plant with hedgerow species if none naturally occur. The rusty fencing was removed as it had become a safety risk.
This winter we are going to have 60 metres of hedge each side of the path just before the Iron Bridge laid. As it is quite an old hedge that was once heavily pruned back it is not ideal for laying. The company undertaking this work will construct a dead hedge; this means they will lay what they can but also pack in much of the brush forming a dense wildlife habitat. If the living parts fail to thicken up we will then plant whips (young trees) next winter.
The aim of the project is to create, albeit over a few years, a rich wildlife corridor with native trees and plants. This will then allow more species of birds and insects to inhabit the area, bringing more enjoyment to those that use it.
Bushy Park Bird News
The types and number of birds present in the park depends on how the winter is progressing.
If we have been enduring a cold spell then we could have large numbers of those Scandinavian members of the thrush family, Fieldfares and Redwings, feeding on any remaining berries. The Silver Birches and Alder trees in areas such as The Canal Plantation and the Woodland Gardens, particularly those close to the river, could also be hosting Siskin and Lesser Redpolls. It is worth closely checking through the redpolls for the slightly larger and paler member of that family the Common Redpoll.
If we happen to have some days with clear blue skies then birds, like the Skylark, will take to sky to sing their beautiful song; actually locating the bird can be very difficult but is worth the challenge. Our two black and white members of the woodpecker family can also be heard drumming; the smaller and rarer member, the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is at real risk of becoming extinct as a park resident. In 2013 there was only one pair left, none of whom were recorded after April of that year. It is worth familiarising yourself to the sounds of these two species' drumming, as it can be difficult to tell the difference.
There is another songster that can be heard and isn't dependant on fine sunny days, the Storm Cock (or to give it its common name, the Mistle Thrush). Males can be heard singing on the most atrocious of days.
For more bird news check out the Regent's Park Birds Blog which also covers Bushy Park.
By Tony Duckett
You may have noticed the primroses flowering on the banks near Fisher's Field.
It was not until after World War II and the appointment of Mr Fisher as Superintendent of Hampton Court and Bushy Park that the Woodland Gardens were completed with the addition of Fisher's Field, previously a livestock paddock.
It is Mr Fisher who is credited with laying out much of the area as a woodland garden in the true horticultural sense. His name is commemorated in the naming of some of the areas after him and members of his family.