The August Meeting 2018 – Ladies’ Lunch

President David Richardson welcomed members and guests to the meeting and particularly Richard and Gwen Howes, back on their annual visit to ‘the old country’.   He then introduced the speaker, Iggy Tavares, who gave a photographic presentation on: 

Wildlife Encounters in Bushy Park

 

 

 

In his presentation Iggy described his visits to Bushy Park as a Croydon Camera Club member and showed a series of stunning pictures of the varied wildlife he discovered there.  In his 12 visits over the year 2017 he concentrated on the three ponds on the Hampton Wick side of the park, the Leg of Mutton  Pond with the canal leading to the  Heron Pond and the Model Boating Pond .  He spent many hours photographing, with much patience and some luck, the differing species and their behaviour when using these waterways.

Especially notable was the Hunting Heron

In the depth of winter with severe frost on the ground he visited Leg of Mutton Pond.  He was amazed to see the birds happily skating on the ice and was lucky enough to spot a grey Heron hunting for food in the canal by the pond.   Iggy spent half an hour on his hands and knees tracking the bird but, distracted by a beautiful approaching Swan, missed photographing the heron catching and eating a fish.  However he did obtain some interesting images of the bird on dry land, preening and drying its feathers.  On a subsequent visit he found the pond had been cleared of reeds and the heron was no longer there, although fish were still visible in the water.   He did notice a young heron by the Model Boating Pond waiting for food from park visitors.

 Stalking Deer  

 In Bushy Park there are two species of deer – Fallow which come in many colours and the larger Red Deer.  In the car park adjoining the Model Boating Pond, Iggy was surprised to see a fallow stag following a clearly agitated woman with a push chair.  Perhaps a little foolhardily, he stepped between the woman and the deer who then turned away and quietly went back to eating grass.   It transpired that the woman was carrying a bag of bread to feed the ducks and the deer had been attracted by this.

  Normally there is mutual respect between humans and deer, although the stags can get a little frisky during the rutting season.

 

Iggy showed some fascinating images of various deer and their young throughout the seasons, with even a possible albino.   He also displayed a series of pictures demonstrating the process of antler growth on the red deer stags throughout the year culminating in the autumn with the full set ready for the clashes in the rutting season.    The Heron pond is used by the red deer for drinking and for keeping cool in the height of summer.   The agile deer are able to negotiate the steep banks in places in order to access the water.   

 

 

 

The deer are introduced to the water from an early age.     Iggy had interesting photos of a herd of female red deer with their young crossing the shallow Heron pond. The overhanging branches of the willow trees surrounding the ponds are kept in check by the grazing deer – some even standing on their hind legs to reach the succulent leaves. 

 

Scavenging Crow  

 

This handsome bird was photographed by the Heron Pond killing and eating a frog and also eating frogspawn.   He was unable to finish his meal and left some of the dismembered carcase of the frog for another scavenger!

 

 

 

 

 

Murderous Swans  

 

In March Heron Pond and Model Boating Pond are full of bird life  Egyptian and Canadian geese, mallard, pochard and smaller tufted ducks, coots, moorhen, sea gulls, grebes and a pair of mute swans.  All struggle to protect their nests and rear their young with sometimes resultant aggressive behaviour. 

 

 

 Iggy showed a sequence of a male swan chasing and then attempting to drown an Egyptian goose by holding its head under water.   Eventually the swan was distracted (by a human!) and gave up.   Surprisingly the goose survived and appeared to be none the worse for its ordeal.

A few days later, Iggy captured a series of photographs of the male swan attacking a pair of Egyptian geese and their three goslings that somehow got past unscathed and then swam on seemingly without a care in the world.  

A few minutes later after landing, the Egyptian geese family had a gosling snatched by a jackdaw, which it fortunately dropped without harm, as Iggy lunged forward with his camera. This was followed by an assault by a pair of Canadian geese but again the Egyptian geese parents were able to repel these forays and keep their young safe. All this took placed in the space of half an hour Iggy surmised that the male swan’s aggressive behaviour was designed to secure the territory around its nearby nest that was being tended by the female.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In May seven cygnets with their parents swam freely between Heron pond and the boating lake. Six weeks later the cygnets were reduced to just four but had grown enormously on a plentiful supply of natural pond fodder supplemented by food from visitors  By December, the four cygnets still with their parents, were virtually fully grown but had a touch of brown on their wings that added some flamboyance to their looks. They were no longer “ugly ducklings”.

 

 

Other birds shown with their young included mallard and pochard ducks where only the female cared for their ducklings. On the other hand, both male and female coots looked after their initially red headed young, a feature which soon disappears as they matured.

Most visitors and their animals behave responsibly towards the wildlife but Iggy has some images of a dog chasing the swan followed by the swan chasing the tiring dog out of the pond.  On the other hand, most visitors took no notice of signs asking them not to feed bread to the water fowl. There is also permitted human activity around these ponds and we saw anglers fishing for and catching carp, which were then returned to the water. 

Unfortunately, there was little time to show Iggy’s many photographs of the other fauna, insects, butterflies, flowers and fish which inhabit Bushy Park.  However he presented some of the results of many hours of patient watching and waiting, which gave an insight into the changing behaviour of some of the wildlife during the various seasons.

At question time   Rodney Murray Jones asked if there were any pink legged geese in the Park and was told none had been observed, although some had been seen on the Twickenham riverside.

David Richardson thanked Iggy for a most interesting presentation and for showing many wonderful photographs. 

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