Thursday, 20 March 2014

Fallow Deer in Sunlight; Red Deer by Moonlight


Fallow Deer


Spring is starting to work its magic in the local countryside, so I've gone on some longer walks through the woods and fields looking (and listening) for signs of it.  In this lovely, sunny weather there's been plenty to see and hear; the first Chiffchaffs, the first butterflies, Marsh Harriers displaying over the local reservoir, the Great Crested Grebes' displays on the water, bats in the evenings, masses of wild violets and primroses on the woodland floor.  And everything looks a lot greener, too, except in the hedgerows and the orchards, which are full of white blossom.  This is a view of the orchard next door...



There's a little bit of pink and white blossom in our newly planted orchard, too.

I'm always looking for unexpected wildlife sightings on my walks, so I was thrilled to see some Fallow Deer through the trees.  With their sharp ears, they knew I was approaching long before I saw them, of course - but I still managed to get a couple of photos before (with a warning bark) they all took off...

Although it has been suggested that Fallow Deer may have been in England during the Roman era, it was the Normans who were responsible for establishing a significant population here. They did this soon after they set up their forests (the word 'forest' first appears at this time, when it is mentioned in the Domesday Book).  Fallow Deer remained in managed forests and parks for centuries, but escaped into the wider countryside in the early twentieth century. They love to eat ash, elm, hawthorn and hazel.


Only four days after I saw the Fallow Deer, I came across more deer in the fields.  I often see the little Muntjac, but this time I saw a small herd of Red Deer.  I couldn't believe I had two fabulous sightings of the 'rarer' deer in just a few days (I won't say it's a bit like buses coming along at once because they're too lovely for that!) I saw the Red Deer just as the sun was going down...



I know that these Red Deer are all that's left of the beautiful herd I saw last spring  here.  I'm very sad (and very angry) to see that there is only five left when I counted eighteen last April.  I know what has happened to them, but I won't write about that story now.  You can probably guess. So these five were a very special sighting, and I managed to get quite close to them, although it was growing darker all the time, so the photos are terrible (and it makes me realise how lucky I was to get such a good sighting for those photos last year)...



Soon I was watching them in the moonlight...
The final rays of the sun shining on the moon

Red Deer are the last of the large deer we have in Britain (Roe and Fallow Deer being smaller).  I find it fascinating to think that thousands of years ago, I could have been looking at Reindeer and Elk, too!  I completely agree with Oliver Rackham, who wrote in his marvellous book, 'The History of the Countryside'...
Deer are the nearest that we have to the great beasts of prehistory; few of us can resist the wonder and adventure of seeing them.


56 comments:

  1. Your pictures are amazing, especially the moon, that is really fabulous!!!! So sad about the deer herd, I am always amazed if I ever see a group of them they way they all follow along through the trees at such speed and they all seem to know exactly where they are going! Great signs of spring for sure. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Everytime I see a full moon I'm fascinated by it - and I couldn't resist a photo of a sunset full moon!
      I'd like to know which of the Fallow Deer gave the warning bark for them all to move off - I imagine it was one of the stags. Thanks Amy.

      Delete
  2. Some super shots of the deer here Wendy. Funnily enough, I was doing a deer survey in a local wood yesterday, watching mainly Fallow, the common variety rather than the spotties. From an ecology perspective they are terribly destructive when living in large groups, particularly when it comes to ancient woodlands- they eat everything down so low that regeneration just doesn't happen. I have mixed feelings about culls because I instinctively don't like killing anything but I also want to look after our woods and forests. It is a difficult one. If only mankind hadn't driven out the apex predators things would be in a much better state of balance. None of that detracts from the pleasure of seeing them of course :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I imagine you can see lots of Fallow Deer in your area and I love the sound of a day deer spotting! I know Fallow do have a taste for certain trees and leave others alone - so this can change the ecology of a wood.
      I loathe culls too - everything is basically the fault of human activity. I certainly don't agree with the culls of native species but I struggle a bit when a non-native species is introduced (by us, of course) that has a negative impact on a native species e.g the American Signal Crayfish destroying our own native Crayfish. Then again, our local wildlife area had a cull of Muntjac last year, without, as far as I could see, any real assessment of their impact on the local ecosystem. It seems to me it took place more because they are non-native and have had an impact in some areas of the country - so the cull took place because of a 'we think it is the right thing to do' argument. It was pointless anyway - because more Muntjac have moved in since to replace the others.
      And to confuse the issue, I also think some species introduced by us should now be protected - like Hares!

      Delete
  3. Wonderful photos! You were lucky to capture them as the deer are so easily camoflaged and hard to spot and then once spotted they run so surely and swiftly. It is such a marvellous feeling when you do spot them:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is so exciting to come across them. It is probably easier to see them now before the trees are in full leaf, but even so - they do blend into the general grey/brown the trees. You are right about them moving - once they decided to run, they disappeared very quickly.

      Delete
  4. You have taken some great shots of these lovely animals Wendy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Roy. As you will know with Deer, they don't like to pose, so I had to be quick!

      Delete
  5. Wonderful shots Wendy - you are so lucky in where you live - it is always a pleasure to see deer in the wild - we only have muntjac round here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Elaine. I have mainly Muntjac here, too. I often hear them barking and they regularly run across my path when I'm out walking. Fortunately my dog has no interest in them at all!

      Delete
  6. We have seen more deer than usual in last few weeks, they must think it is spring too! Your images are wonderful. The orchard look so beautiful with the blossom. Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the same here, Sarah, I tend to see more Deer in spring than at other times. It is the time of year to look out for them.
      I'm looking forward to the day when my own orchard is as full of blossom as the orchard next door!

      Delete
  7. What wonderful pictures. They are such beautiful animals. We have a few round here, I've seen them rush across the road in front of my car, and once had a little muntjac in our drive nibbling the flowers. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a lovely sighting of the Muntjac, even though it had a taste for your flowers! I don't have them on the smallholding because of the barriers of our pond and the fence for the sheep (although Muntjac are so small I think they might just get through the gaps) I do see them run along the edge, though. Such small creatures, really.

      Delete
  8. I envy you to have deer in your surroundings must be wonderful to spot them early in the morning or by sunset in the evening.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The sunset encounter with the Red Deer was very special. The fields grew quieter as it grew darker, with just a hint of a breeze - and the Deer were silent, too - because they knew I was there. I watched them until it was too difficult to see them in the dark!

      Delete
  9. What amazing photos, you have captured them beautifully. I love the sentiment and the quote as well, they are fantastic animals, it's always such a privilege to see them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, it is such a privilege to see them - they are such beautiful creatures. They are so nervous though, so I feel very fortunate when they do stop for a moment to let me watch them.

      Delete
  10. Fantastic shots Wendy! I've occasionally seen deer in the woods here, and one on the lawn, but they are so difficult to photograph. As you say, they spot you long before you see them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They always know that you're there! I was lucky last spring with my photos of the Red Deer, they knew I was there (I was right in front of them) but I was the lesser of two evils at the time - they were less concerned with me than the tractor in the next field.

      Delete
  11. Great post and photos, comming across the Deer must have been thrilling. You have a wide range of nature to look at.. How lucky

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is plenty of wildlife here, Amanda, but it is under threat. There are plans for more development in the area which will mean more concrete and more traffic - and many of the hedges are still being pulled up, too. I like to imagine how it was many years ago when there was so much more wildlife to see.

      Delete
  12. The flowering orchard next door is like a dream! How beautiful! And I am a bit envious of the variety of deer you have seen lately. They're truly amazing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The orchard is starting to look beautiful and it's slightly wild, too - which gives it a very romantic look and feel! I've been very fortunate to see the Deer - I haven't seen the British Roe Deer for years, though and I would love to see one of those again soon.

      Delete
  13. Beautiful images - I really love the one of the orchard (you have captured a special magical atmosphere in that photo).

    Well done on the deer sightings and getting such lovely photos. Its very sad to think about what may have happened to some of the deer. As you know I get rather het up about the subject of culling especially of native species! I've read articles in British Wildlife (I think) about the adverse effect muntjac can have on forests and woods so it was interesting to read that after culling more moved into the area. Culling is such a difficult and controversial subject and when I was studying water voles I did get to the stage where I could see the necessity for killing the non-native mink. There again that's difficult too because at the end of the day it wasn't the minks fault they were here as populations were due to accidental and deliberate releases from fur farms.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the sense of walking through tunnels of blossom in the orchard next door. I hope to create that here, although I think it will take a while for that to happen.
      Having seen the Red Deer, I am particularly upset about what happened to them. I think on culls and dilemmas - your example of the mink is such a good one. Their impact on Water Voles has been terrible and it seems that Water Voles can't get established again if there is Mink in the area - so the Mink have to be removed to save the Water Voles. But as you say, the Mink is only behaving naturally - and the problem has been created by human behaviour.

      Delete
  14. We have red deer - magnificent animals (who love tulips and come into gardens to eat them - keep them off with scented soap. Works for us so I take every opportunity to pass it on...forgive if I've mentioned it already.) That orchard is so beautiful. We have snow on the hills today, but spring is here too. Your photographs are beautiful

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our small herd of Red Deer is very rarely seen, so I am envious if you have a few where you are. I am fascinated about the tulips and scented soap, it does sound a great and harmless way of deterring them.
      It is turning colder here but I hope that won't bring any snow. I've already got used to spring!

      Delete
  15. Hello Wendy, superb images :o)
    I hate the culls too...
    Best wishes
    Rose H
    xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Rose - hope all is well with you x

      Delete
  16. What a delightful post, I really,really enjoyed it and looking at your deer gave me such a thrill. What majestic creatures and how fantastic that you got so close to them. I would love to have deer so close to me, last year I saw three fallow deer while cycling with hubs, I was in awe....how very sad to hear of the demise of the red deer though, it's heartbreaking if they were culled. Thanks so much for sharing your deer with us.xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How lovely seeing the Fallow Deer when you were cycling that day. This is why I love spending any free time I have out in the countryside, hoping I'll come across something unexpected - like Deer. I think they're amazing - they will tolerate someone watching them for a bit - and then they've had enough. Then they won't want you anywhere near them again! x

      Delete
  17. How wonderful to see these beautiful creatures and thanks so much for sharing with us. I have swapped my deer for seagulls!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every place has it's own special wildlife. I think I would spend a great deal of my time watching sea birds if I lived on the coast! The sound of seagulls on a sunny day with the sea in the background is wonderful!

      Delete
  18. Wonderful photos Wendy.. just beautiful :o)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wonderful images Wendy - humans have a lot to answer for in regards of our wildlife. The fact that you are able to take a walk and see such beautiful creatures is in itself special. I don't think I've ever seen a red deer. We have a couple of deer that appear periodically nearby but I've no idea what they are and I generally only hear about it 2nd hand from neighbours.
    That image of the moon is amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is interesting about your local Deer, I wonder what they are? Although we have pockets of Deer in this part of the world, it is always a very special moment to see them. A view of them certainly isn't guaranteed.
      I was lucky the Red Deer appeared on the night of a full moon, it did give me a much better view of them.

      Delete
  20. Wonder indeed. Whenever I see them, which is pretty rarely, there's a frisson that I feel with no other animal. Fabulous shots Wendy.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks Em. I know exactly what you mean. And the moment when I first see them - and they stare back at me without moving - is magical.

    ReplyDelete
  22. What magical photos Wendy, you seem to have a special ability to be in the right place at the right time.
    We have Fallow deer regularly coming into the garden, they crop our hedge, we do not mind, it saves us cutting it!
    You have captured a memorable moon shot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rosemary. I was amazed to see the Fallow and Red Deer within a few days of each other - after not having seen any for months (except the little Muntjac). I do envy you the Fallow Deer in your garden, I can't think of a better to way to keep a hedge cropped!

      Delete
  23. Wonderful photos Wendy, you certainly see the wildlife when walking the dog. When we had our old girl we used to see Red and Roe deer on the common. Only once have we seen them on the field next to us and once when we had snow we found the tracks in the garden.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The sight of the Red and Roe deer must have been lovely, Pauline. Now my dog Harry is older we do see more wildlife because he is slower and won't chase anything. And I love looking in the garden after snow, too to see what's been there overnight.

      Delete
  24. That orchard photo is such a beautiful reminder that spring is on its way. We've had such a brutal winter. Deer are massively overpopulated here and are often the cause of car accidents. The counties are bringing in specially trained hunters to thin the herds. But I still think they're beautiful when I see them, even if they aren't rare.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I imagine you'll be really glad to see spring where you are after such a winter. Spring has definitely arrived here - I think I can safely say that now!
      We have pockets of deer in my area but on the whole it is rare to see them, although the (introduced) Muntjac are fairly common in the countryside. But I can't imagine that in ten, twenty years any of the deer will be seen very much at all - there's far too much development planned for here.

      Delete
  25. Encounters with nature is such a special experience, one I'm thankful for every time. Mule deer visit our meadow at dusk during the winter. They are very attractive with their big ears and i've become very attached to them. Unfortunately they also like to eat flowers, especially roses, and berries. They dislike the smell of lavender so I'm planting a barrier between the meadow and the garden. They will probably scoff at it. Fencing is the only real answer.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I don't know about Mule deer - I will go and look them up. I imagine seeing them at dusk is pretty special. None of the deer, even the more common Muntjac, are a problem in any of the gardens here - but that is very interesting about lavender as a deer-deterrent. I think you're right about the fencing, though!

    ReplyDelete
  27. How wonderful to get sightings of deer like that. There are supposed to be deer around here but after nine years and many hours outside and walking the tracks and hills I have never seen any. I am not sure there are any to be seen. This time of year is very special. Love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder what type of deer are close to where you are. I often see the deer tracks here but, with exception of Muntjac, I rarely see the deer themselves. I imagine that, because I'm usually walking with the dog, they can hear us a mile off!
      From now until mid summer has to be my favourite time of year.

      Delete
  28. Love the first one. Good pose and good shot!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Gorgeous photos of the deer Wendy! So thrilling to see such fabulous creatures in the wild!

    ReplyDelete
  30. It is wonderful having an encounter with deer like this. And there was something very special about seeing the Red Deer in the dusk.

    ReplyDelete
  31. It must have been magical to see the red deer in the reddish light as the sun was going down. I hope you see them again soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes it was, Helen. Such beautiful creatures standing silently in the field. I watched them until it was too dark to see them clearly!

      Delete

Thank you for taking the time to leave any comments. I do love to read them.