Thursday, 10 February 2011

Inside Isabella

It has been a while since I explored the Isabella Plantation within Richmond Park but the weather was sunny and bright on Tuesday morning so I thought I would take a stroll around.

Just after leaving the car park I stopped to watch a small group of Red Deer stags grazing in the shade beneath the tree canopy. 
These beasts are fairly tolerant of humans providing you don't directly invade their space and as usual I was watched very intensely by one individual while another youngster just showed his displeasure by giving me the 'bums rush'! 
 They soon returned to grazing but still keeping a wary eye on the 'watcher'!

Before entering the plantation I checked the map with the intention of planning out a route but then decided to just follow my nose and ears listening for birdie sounds ..... the repeated phrases of a Song Thrush singing from high in the oak canopy; Parakeets squawking as they moved from perch to perch; next was the drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker; the sharp "tui - tui - tui" of a Nuthatch who I located with the bins but it wouldn't drop lower for a close view; plus a couple of Redpolls high in the Birches but indistinct amongst the branches to ascertain if either was a Mealy!  

When I eventually arrived at Peg Pond the first sight was a pair of Egyptian Geese in the company of their close relative, a Shelduck.  
 (Common) Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna).
The star turns had to be the exotic and colourful male Mandarin Duck together with his partner. (A separate post on this species will follow in due course as I took quite a few shots).

This small pond contained quite a varied selection including a male Pochard, Mallard, Shoveler, Black-headed Gull and a few Tufties but what I wasn't prepared for was the sight of 2 Northern Pintails .... obviously pinioned as they were far too trusting but again I got some close ups to share later.

 Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)

Once the human activity around the pond died down the Jackdaws arrived to pick up any left over scraps.

On my route back through the plantation I stopped close to a pair of feeders watching Blue, Great and the occasional Coal Tit dash in for a quick feed before returning to a nearby branch to consume their tasty tit bits. What I wasn't prepared for was the fast, dashing flight of a male Sparrowhawk who appeared from his hiding place within a Rhododendron bush some 30 feet away .... dropped onto the feeder and then took off, empty handed, returning to his hideaway .... and it all happened in the blink of an eye ... but not just ONCE ... I watched this episode repeat again and again with interludes of anything from 5 to 15 minutes.

Despite trying to focus on the feeders I only captured him partially stationery on just one fly pass! In between this activity a Grey Squirrel also monitored the feeders and eventually got up the courage to drop onto the floor to pick up some scraps.

As I made my way out of the plantation I passed under a large canopy of fragrant Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) in full bloom. I then headed off through the park towards Penn Ponds ..... to be continued.   FAB.  


  1. That red deer looks very much like our sambar deer. Amazing to see such a variety of wild ducks at one place. Great shots!

  2. All I can say is "WOW" Frank. What a wonderful post full of excellent images. Love that Shelduck close up, and that Reflection shot of the Pintails is just outstanding. I have never seen a Jackdaw. They're quite pretty too.

  3. these are great. The Reds are good looking deer. I work in Texas and Texas is a weird goofy place with all sorts of introduced species, so I've seen Red Deer there, I like 'em :) Though they shouldn't be there, sigh...Love all the bird photos - the reflections are excellent!

  4. A most enjoyable stroll with you Frank :) Lovely photos again too. The drake Mandarin really does look exotic. I have never seen one in this area at all. I do like the Pintails too, very elegant looking I think.

    When I see the Sparrowhawk lurking like that I'm very glad I am only a songbird by name and not by nature ;)

  5. Hi Amila. I'll have to look up the Sambar just to see how similar. For a very small pond I was surprised at the numbers but glad as it provided an opportunity for some shooting.

    Hi Mona. Should have some more Pintail images to share soon .. I'm hoping you'll like them. As for the Jackdaw ... often a very noisy Corvid!!

    Johnny Nutcase. Thanks Jill. Yes, I've seen a few posts from Texas showing all the different species and often wondered why they all ended up there?

    HI Jan. The sunshine put a smile on everyones face that day plus the wildlife enjoyed the interactions.
    Sprawk v SongBird ... no contest. I'm just glad my head wasn't in his flight line .. lol.

  6. Super selection of images loved the Red Deer and Sparrowhawk shots and very interesting post which i thoroughly enjoyed reading.

  7. You caught everyone, the Red Deer, Shoveler, and Northern Pintails are outstanding.

  8. Amazing shots of the Pintails Frank

  9. Wow, you certainly have beautiful birds in the UK!

  10. Frank It totally blows my mind how many different types of birds there are in England. How in the world there are so many different types in one spot just amazing. Carol

  11. Awesome picture of the pintails.

  12. Great shots Frank. Especially love the deer, Pintail and Mandarins.

  13. What awesome photos you got of the ducks! What beauties those Mandarins are and I love the Northern pintails! I think the males are so handsome and elegant! Your sparrow hawk looks similar to our sharp-shined hawk. We often call our American kestrel a sparrow hawk. I find these differences fascinating! BTW, aren't gray squirrels invasive there?

  14. Hi Anthony. Glad you enjoyed the stroll. Just a pity the Sprawk wouldn't sit still!

    Hi Bob. Well nearly everyone .. the small birds didn't play ball!

    Thanks Roy .. they were quite obliging.

    Hi Karen. AND so do you.

  15. Hi Carol. Mixed woodland plus water is always a good location for seeing a varied selection although some in the park are introduced species. The UK breeding bird list is only 235 out of a total of 598 species recorded which includes a few American vagrants.

    Cheers Red.

    Thanks Keith.

    Hi Kathie. Pintail is probably the most elegant of our winter migrants. The Sprawk and Sharpie ARE very similar.
    Yes, the 'tree rat' is invasive and has pushed out the Red Squirrel from all but a few locations within the UK.

  16. Wow, you have such a wonderful window to wildlife and captured it beautifully.

  17. Hi Laura. Thanks for your visit and complimentary comments.

  18. Hi Frank,You can look up a Sambar deer here

  19. Hi Amila. Thanks for the link. I can see the similarity although appear to have larger ears.

  20. Great shots. Love the pintails - my favourite Duck!!

  21. Cheers Tony. I'll try to post a few more of the elegant Pintail very soon ... just for you.


I hope you enjoyed your visit and I always appreciate your comments and feedback.


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