Richmond Park

For our third day trip we wanted to give the car a rest, so packed our bags and struck out for Richmond Park. Despite living in south-west London for over two years, we still hadn't made it past Putney Heath, so it felt like an ideal day to break that record. Still, in an attempt to avoid as many people as possible, we ended up cutting through the heath and then along the A3. It's not the most ideal route but it had the desired effect of limiting contact with other people, and at least it was shaded for most of the way (though I still managed to burn my one calf quite badly, though I remain unsure if it was a sunburn or something else).

Having reached Richmond by early afternoon via the Stag Lodge gate, we grabbed a much-needed ice cream and struck out for the Isabella Plantation. It was hot, so we took our time (and got a little lost on a horse trail 😁), only to find out that the plantation was closed (COVID related it seems). Oh well, we pivoted down to the Pen Ponds instead, which proved to be an excellent choice. Whilst there were plenty of people around, there was still a decent amount of space, so we stopped on the raised pathway between the two ponds and just chilled for a bit. It was an ideal opportunity to test out my new knowledge of the Sigma lens and – hooray! 🙌 – my hunch was proven true. Drop the aperture just a single stop and photos taken at 600mm – even whilst seated – improved dramatically. At f/8 there's barely any difference over the entire zoom range. Bolstered by this success, I spent a good 30-40 minutes just shooting away at the surprising variety of birdlife on and around the ponds, before we decided to shift around to a shaded bench just a short stroll away for our picnic dinner (garlic quiche and sambal salad 🤤).

We even managed to spot a few local red deer whilst eating, so once we'd finished we packed up and began following the small river out to the Roehampton Gate, stopping a few times en route to snap some of the wildlife. We were lucky to spot a beautiful young fallow buck illuminated at the edge of one woodland outcrop, whilst an extremely young red deer emerged with its mother from a bracken meadow and began gambling around. At the gate itself we discovered a large bachelor herd, antlers firmly velveted, which were behaving remarkably calmly considering the sheer stupidity of some members of the public 🤦‍♂️

Leaving the park, we struck back towards Putney and ended up looping around the edge of the WWT reserve to come back along the Thames. It was a great day and a solid hiking distance, which my feet were definitely feeling by the end of things. Richmond itself was a little lacklustre, but I'd happily return to the ponds and it feels like there's still a lot we haven't explored there, so perhaps a bit premature to write it off.

Spot List

  • Canada Geese
  • Egyptian Geese
  • Greylag Geese
  • Great Crested Grebe
  • Black-headed Gull
  • Common Tern
  • Heron
  • Mute Swan
  • Pintail (possibly, female)
  • Ring-necked Parakeet
  • Red Deer
  • Fallow Deer
  • Grey Squirrel

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