Nature Notes: Autumn afternoon

Autumn afternoon

Autumn afternoon

First published in Nature Notes Wandsworth Guardian: Photograph of the Author by

On the anniversary of the '87 hurricane I walk appropriately perhaps towards Two Storm Wood in Richmond Park. The afternoon is bright mild and breezy but the wind is nowhere near as strong as it was during that damaging event a quarter of a century ago.

Within a copse, tree stumps lean at an angle northeast, having bowed before the gale, many sprouting a variety of fungi breaking down the crumbling timber. As jackdaws 'chak-chak', a red admiral skims overhead and stepping over a puddle I notice a bright green bush-cricket struggling in the water. Rescuing the insect, it leaps gratefully from my finger tip into the herbage.

Topping a gentle rise I see below vast herds of red and fallow deer, mostly sitting loafing in the sun. Despite the fact that this is the peak of the rutting season, all seems relatively calm and tension-free.

Occasionally a stag rouses himself to half-heartedly chase off a rival, mincing along like a horse at dressage. A fallow buck utters his coughing-burp and wanders around seeking receptive does.

A large flock of starlings scans the grass while some perch on the backs of deer picking off insects. Every few minutes the flock rises at some unknown signal, completes a couple of circuits then settles back in exactly the same spot.

Down at Beverley brook a noble stag (pictured) surveys his huge harem numbering fifty seven hinds varieties!

In the distance, mobbed by starlings, a red kite circles lazily, clearly venturing eastwards beyond his usual M40 corridor patch.

There are so many sights and sounds to savour in such a wonderful location.

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