Midsummer in Richmond

Okay so this is old news but on Midsummer’s Day we paid a visit to Richmond Park to see how the deer were getting on.

Red Deer Richmond Park

Red Deer Richmond Park

It wasn’t long before we found a herd of red deer. The deer are quite chilled at the moment because the mating season does not kick in until later in the year when things start to get a little more unpredictable and potentially dangerous as we found out back in October 2011

Spot the stag

Spot the stag

If you click to enlarge the photo above you can see that the deer with his head turned to the left has the beginning of a pair of antlers growing from his skull. By October these will be bloody enormous and he will be using them to fight with other stags for possession of these lovely ladies.

Red deer - stag to the left

Red deer – stag to the left

Here he is again on the left.

We also got to see some of the park’s shyer fallow deer. They made a dash through the red deer herd,

Red and fallow deer

Red and fallow deer

and over the road to hide in the undergrowth.

Fallow deer

Fallow deer

As you can see the stags have the beginnings of antlers, although they seem a touch more developed than those of the red deer.

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse

More Deer, Beer and Tapas – Richmond-upon-Thames

On Saturday a friend suggested going for tapas and there really are not many restaurants that can beat Don Fernandos’s in Richmond. Naturally no visit to Richmond is complete without visiting Richmond Park to see the deer, even if you do find yourself trapped in the midst of  three testosterone charged red deer stags at the height of the rut, like we did last October (more about that trip and Don Fernando’s here). By this time of year things have calmed down a lot and it wasn’t long before we got a sight of some of Britain’s largest land mammals happily noshing away at the grass.

Red Deer Richmond Park

Red Deer Richmond Park, you can just about make out the tower of Canary Wharf far to the east in the background

The deer appeared fairly nervous, which I put down to a number of large dogs being walked in the area, let’s face it they are not that far removed from the wolf. As the light was starting to fade and the park gates are closed at dusk we decided to bid the deer farewell and head back into Richmond for a few beers at The Roebuck as the Sun set. I was feeling a little disappointed that we hadn’t really got very close to the deer when as we approached the gates, a movement to the left caught my eye.

Fallow Deer stags

Fallow Deer bucks

It was a pair of fallow deer bucks, their dappled coats almost perfectly camouflaging them from sight. Fallow deer are smaller than the UK’s indigenous red deer and were probably introduced to Britain by the Romans. I was delighted to get a few shots of these beautiful animals before the light faded. It was the perfect end to our visit to the park.

Light and dark varients of fallow deer bucks, Richmond Park

Light and dark variants of fallow deer bucks, Richmond Park

Deer, Beer and Tapas – Richmond upon Thames

There’s something a bit primal in the autumn. As the leaves start falling from the trees the urge to create new life stirs in much of our wildlife and nowhere could have been more charged than London’s leafy suburb  of Richmond upon Thames this weekend.

Red Deer Richmond Park

Richmond Park is London’s largest Royal Park and home to around 300 Red and 350 Fallow Deer. At this time of year the does come in to season and the park reverberates to the sound of the stags challenging each other. Even close to the road it is quite easy to find yourself suddenly confronted by one of Britain’s largest land animals emerging from the bracken and spoiling for a fight.

Red Deer Stag

Fortunately it’s normally another stag they are interested in, but it’s worth remembering that these are powerful wild animals, especially if you find yourself surrounded by three of them, like we did. We just kept still and eventually the largest stag chased the two smaller animals off. It was rather like being in the middle of our own wildlife documentary and during the afternoon we saw loads of Red Deer. We also saw some of the shyer Fallow Deer running through the bracken close to the river bank.

We also saw rather a lot of these fellows.

Indian Ring Necked Parakeet

He’s an Indian Ring Necked Parakeet and there were hundreds of them enjoying the chestnuts. The parakeets at Richmond are one of three major breeding colonies in London descended from escaped cage birds. The others are at Eltham and Kensal Rise cemetary. Some people want to see these immigrants eradicated, but I rather like them.

The park closes at around 6pm so we went to have a drink at The Roebuck on Richmond Hill, where you get a splendid view as the Sun sets over the Thames meandering through Buccleach Gardens. Who would have thought you would get a view like this,

The Thames at sunset

about 45 minutes from central London by tube?.

We finished the evening at Don Fernando’s Spanish Tapas Restaurant (27F The Quadrant, 020 8948 8447), slap bang next to Richmond Station. this is one of my favourite Spanish restaurants, just opening the door a cornucopia of flavours assaults your nose from the open kitchen that runs along  the side of the seating area. It’s busy, noisy and the closest thing to being in Spain without actuually being there. We started with padron peppers and followed with spanish omelette, Patatas Bravas, prawns in garlic oil, flattened lamb steak, Albondigas (Spanish meat balls) Manchego cheese, Chorizo de la Plancha and aubergine fritters. despite this feast there we still had room for a desert. I had a delightful lemon ice cream, and a digestif.

A bit of Spain in Surrey, Don Fernando’s

For the six of us with water, beer and coffees the bill came to £133, amazingly good value for food of that quality and quantity.

Richmond is on the London Underground District Line, London Overground and Southern Region Railways. Richmond Park is about a 20 minute walk from the station and admission is free.