Another week, another royal park! This time it’s the smallest and oldest, St James’s Park. Set in front of Buckingham Palace, the park was originally created by Henry VIII as a hunting ground. Later, it was redesigned by Charles II and became home to the first, royal Great White (or Rosy) Pelicans. They were a gift to the King from the Russian Ambassador in 1664 and the park has been a home to pelicans ever since.
St James’s has a fascinating history that has really left it’s mark on the area. Charles II had avenues of trees planted alongside his Paile Maile (similar to croquet) lawns. Locals started calling the main road alongside these lawns Pall Mall and the nickname stuck. The King opened the park to the public and was a frequent visitor, feeding the ducks and mingling with his subjects. He filled the park with animals including camels, elephants and crocodiles and built a row of aviaries for his collection of exotic birds. The adjacent roadway gained the name Birdcage Walk. People still gather here to feed the birds and a few exotics have returned, the ring-necked parakeets!
John Nash redesigned the park in the 19th Century. The original canal was transformed into a natural-looking lake and in 1837 the Ornithological Society of London presented the park with a collection of birds and erected a cottage for a birdkeeper. Both the cottage and the position of birdkeeper remain to this day. Duck Island cottage is where you will find the pelicans being fed every day between 14:30 and 15:00. There are also around 15 species of waterfowl living on the lake.
Exploring this lovely little park was just the tonic I needed on Friday afternoon after another disappointing appointment at Guy’s Hospital. The day may have started out negatively but I turned it into something very positive! Another busy Monday ahead so I am putting my pelican into all three Monday challenges. Have a great week everyone!
I made a bit of a beginners error on Saturday morning when I left the house to travel up to London’s Hyde Park. I forgot my main camera! Oops. To be fair I was rather distracted by the prospect of Swimming The Serpentine for charity again (here’s a link to my fundraising page), remembering the wetsuit, goggles, entry tags, swim cap, timing tag and my waterproof camera. So at least I did have ONE camera with me! I didn’t get much from in the water though as it was quite choppy with the huge numbers of swimmers. There were 5000 swimmers over the course of the day, including myself and my mum. Colder than last year, both in and out of the water but nevertheless, absolutely brilliant! The wildlife in Hyde Park is wonderful. A sanctuary for nature and people in the heart of London. Swans are such enigmatic birds and I love swimming alongside them in open water. This youngster was busily preening its’ feathers after the latest rain shower. I was really pleased with how my waterproof Olympus performed for me in capturing this shot! I still WISH I’d had the Sony and Fuji kit there though. I really must try to get up to the park for a purely photographic outing sometime! This black and white edit is my entry for the weekend photography Fotospeed challenge.
Late afternoon sun, glowing through the trees and highlighting a foraging pheasant. This scene last week typified so much of what I love most about Autumn; golden sunlight, warm colours and wildlife stocking-up on food ahead of the Winter months. Late at RHS Wisley Gardens and I think I was the last visitor to leave; actually, I admit it, I know I was the last one there as I would have been completely locked in if Christina hadn’t still been working in the membership offices! I love being in the grounds when it’s quiet. Even more wildlife appears! It’s magical. I thought that I would share this captivating scene for the Wex Mondays challenge this week.
Meet Sparky, a wonderful caracara who has more character than one image alone can express! We watched in awe as Sparky performed to the crowds at RHS Wisley Gardens, with Martin Ballam and Peter Warne from Xtreme Falconry, on Saturday afternoon. The caracara is an unusual bird of prey from the Falkland Islands. You can look up more about the caracara here, but I shall hint at why they are so unusual by telling you that there aren’t any trees for them to roost in or hunt from! I love Sparky so much that I’m sharing this as my Fotospeed challenge entry this week and adding a little video I made of the show on Saturday. I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did 😀