As always with the onset of spring, Bushy Park is looking stunning thanks to the work of the team on the ground, who have been working through the cold and rain to prepare for the new seasons.
Winter was an uncharacteristically busy time, with increased visitor numbers causing some damage to the park’s landscape at a time when it would usually be regenerating. It will continue to be a bit of a challenge to make sure people have enough space around paths to social distance while also dealing with soil compaction and conserving the park’s many ant hills.
Throughout the year The Royal Parks specialist arboricultural team undertake a condition survey of the trees in the Park to assess the safety and health of the tree stock. Tree work may be specified to individual trees which might be anything from the reduction pruning of individual branches to the felling of diseased, dangerous or dead trees.
Arisings and deadwood from this work is kept in the Park as far as possible. Deadwood, where it presents minimal risk, is retained in tree canopies, as ‘monoliths’ or on the ground as it is an important habitat for many insects, and in turn supports the bird population.
Due to the relatively mild winter we have had so few winter visiting birds to the UK, as they have so far not felt the need to move from the continent or the farmlands of East Anglia. This has meant that the Fieldfare’s are largely absent from the Park, how ever there have been a number of Redwings. Siskin and Lesser Redpoll may have moved on and the Common/Mealy Redpoll haven’t been seen for a number of years
If we happen to have some days with clear blue skies, then birds like the Skylark will take to the sky to sing their beautiful song; actually, locating the songster can be very difficult but is worth the challenge. The only black and white woodpecker now seen in Bushy Park is the Greater Spotted Woodpecker, who can be heard drumming.
There is another songster that can be heard and isn’t dependant on fine sunny days, that is the Storm Cock or to give it its common name the Mistle Thrush. Males can be heard singing on the most atrocious of days.
The Narcissi started to flower throughout the gardens this month, while the Snowdrops (Galanthus) will be at the end of flowering.
Camellias are now flowering with increased vigour as the weather warms up, the collection looks to be an interesting one with a selection of historic varieties that are less common in cultivation. The Cherry Tree walk is also starting to bloom with an underplanting of spring bulbs.
The winter works in the garden are nearing completion. The garden team are working on the finishing touches of ground preparation ready for grass seeding. They are rotovating the ground to mix the leaf mould with the soil and levelling it. Seeding will happen as the weather warms up.
Fishers Pond works (funded by Mission: Invertebrate) is complete. The area has been overseeded with a range of native plants that will bind the silt together.