With no predators and approximately 100 births annually, the deer population would increase beyond the park's carrying capacity without human intervention.
To prevent starvation and malnutrition, the deer are selectively culled during September and November. This ensures a healthy herd of 320 with the correct balance of ages and sexes.
The high point of the rut will soon be over and the lean bellies and hindquarters of the stags bear witness to their recent exertion. They regain condition by feasting on sweet chestnuts, horse chestnuts and acorns, building up winter fat reserves. Removing chestnuts deprives the deer of essential food.
Please leave the chestnuts for the deer.
Throughout the year, members of The Royal Parks arboricultural team monitor the trees in the park on a cyclical programme of inspection. This records the condition of the trees from a safety point of view and the effects of any pest and disease.
Tree work specified may include a variety of options to mitigate risk such as the reducing of crown size, shortening of individual branches, monolithing of dead trees, or ultimately, felling. Monolithing and felling are options for trees that have died. Retaining standing dead wood monoliths provides high value habitat, as does retaining the deadwood around the base of trees and other arisings from tree work. All wood and arisings remain in the park and are treated this way; this both enhances habitat and prevents the spread of any pest and diseases.
This month, inspections are being undertaken in the Pheasantry Gardens, repollarding of previously pollarded willows (Salixsp.) is taking place and some crown reductions of over mature red oak (Quercus rubra) will be completed.
Mushrooms and toadstools
In the autumn many types of wild mushrooms and toadstools enrich the park's grassland and ancient trees. The underground 'mycelium' of these fruiting or spore-bearing bodies is otherwise hidden all year.
Removal of the mushrooms and toadstools is illegal as it affects reproduction and removes food for dependant wildlife. Some rare insect species depend entirely on a particular type of mushroom.
In Fishers Field the star like shiny leaves are starting to turn on the Liquidambar styraciflua "Worplesdon" and are displaying bright vivid autumn colours. Yew and Camellia cuttings planted out in the gardens so that in a few years time will form a windbreak on the North eastern side of the Gardens to protect them from the cold March winds. Dog Woods are to be planted in Fishers Field to give winter stem colour in future years. Planting will continue this month in a number of areas with the Pheasantry Car Park being one of them. The leaf clearing has started and will continue until just after Christmas.
By November almost all of our summer visitors will have left. The park's position near the River Thames and the large water bodies in SW London means that there is a chance of a late House Martin or Swallow passing through. These and other insectivorous birds try and follow the rivers and canal systems in the London area. This is because it allows them the chance to feed in habitats that are normally richer in flying insects as they migrate. Chiffchaff, a summer visitor and breeder in small numbers in the park, may also be found feeding alongside the Longford River.
It is also a time to check the parks lakes for the arrival of our less common waterfowl – i.e. Teal, Shoveler and Gadwall. The scrape (a shallow grassy pool) viewed from Dukes Head Passage is a favoured location for Teal. The species is quite flighty and one that wildfowlers like to shoot as they are fast flyers.
Another favourite of the shooting fraternity is the Woodcock, these birds are already arriving by the start of the month but large numbers navigate on clear moonlit nights.
If we are unlucky enough to have a cold spell it is worth checking the areas of birch and alder for Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and the even scarcer Common Redpoll.
The best time to be out in the park and looking for birds is when the wind is blowing from the east or south-east.