an upland herd of RED DEER have
occupied the Martindale Estate
between Ullswater and Haweswater for over 300 years. Managed
by the landowners, the herd has grown and over-spilled into
neighbouring Mardale and Kentmere, with an outlying group
now established at Thirlmere and Armboth Fell.
Separate woodland herds
are based in Grizedale Forest, the Rusland Valley (pictured
here at mid-morning in mid-May), and on the limestone at the
head of Morecambe Bay - this latter group often being observed
from the hides at Leighton Moss. The woodland stags are better
nourished (being partial to Yew, Juniper and Bramble) and
generally several centimetres taller.
is the largest land mammal in the UK - standing between 100
and 130 cm high at the shoulder. Coats turn from grey-brown
to reddish brown in summer.
family group is led by the senior hind and loosely interacts
with other groups. Except during the autumn rutting season
stags are excluded
to the edges of the area, becoming exposed and vulnerable.
occurs in September and October with the hinds giving birth
about eight months later in mid-May to July.
half the height of Red Deer, the ROE
DEER is the second largest native species
of deer but smaller than the Red at around 60-75 cm at the
shoulder. It almost became extinct through hunting and poaching,
but has made a remarkable comeback since the start of the
twentieth century and is now present in all parts of the county
except the high fells, sometimes at "pest" levels.
remnant population from the Solway Mosses dispersed (perhaps
displaced by tree felling for the requirements of World War
I) and spread throughout the Eden Valley. These have been
joined by descendents of European stock released
near Windermere around 1900.
Red Deer, Roes are not social - young leave the family group
the following spring to find a mate. The pair
may then occupy the same territory for several years, with
small groups, of half a dozen or so animals, only forming
after the rutting season in July.
kids are usually born in early May (see photo),
a little earlier than Red Deer calves.
They spend the first day or two alone, the mother only returning
to feed them at intervals, but keeping a watchful eye from
are the bright foxy red coat of adults which gives way to
grey-brown in winter (as here in November), big ears and white
lined muzzle, but it is the disappearing and characteristic
white rump that is often seen!
in size between the Red and Roe Deer, the FALLOW DEER
is an introduced species
to Britain (probably the Romans first tried it, but certainly
the Normans introduced
them for hunting purposes).
Cumbria there are private parkland herds at Holker (Cartmel)
and Dalemain (Penrith), but the only wild examples are found
on the Cumbria-Lancashire border from a small herd in woodland
near Silverdale and Arnside (probably originating as escapees
from Dallam Park). Levens Park in the south of the county
is home to a small herd of very handsome Norwegian black
fallow deer (see photos right and below) and
a walk through what was a medieval deer park often provides
good viewing. They have very little if any white, but occasionally
a pure white specimen is born.
common variety in Britain has a tan/fawn colour with white
spotting on the flanks and white rump patch outlined
with characteristic black horse-shoe. Both the Holker and
the Silverdale herds, however, are of the menil
variety, which are paler and lack the black horseshoe marking.
The coats remain spotted in winter but becoming long and
grey and less distinct.
fallow is the only British deer with palmate antlers, males
acquiring them from the age of three and growing with age
until about 70 cm long (points on the front are known as tines,
those at the back pellers):-
diminutive and secretive MUNTJAC is around
50 cm tall and seems to have established itself thinly
in the south of the county, being recorded from both Roudsea
and Brigsteer Woods.
live singly or in pairs and like the rest of England's wild
Muntjac deer they are probably descendents of escapees
from Woburn Park and of Chinese origin.