Post by Nina Fenner, Woodland Trust Volunteer.
Last Thursday evening was the first of a series of talks this winter organised by the Woodland Trust and held at The Fingle Bridge Inn.
The subject of this first talk was the “Deer of the Teign Valley”. Mick Jones of the National Trust and John Stowers of the Deer Initiative explained the life cycle and biology of the fallow deer and possible links to deer released into the original Whiddon Deer Park. The talk included advice and hints on how and when it is best to see and hear these spectacular animals, in particular during the forthcoming rut. The control of deer and how the impact of deer on the woodland habitat was also discussed, and how this will be monitored over the coming years.
Here are a couple of photographs I took recently that show the distinctive deer browsing lines in areas that they frequent. It is very similar to the grazing lines that can be seen in parkland trees where sheep or cattle graze off the lower branches of trees.
Mick Jones also had a variety of skins and antlers of different deer species which could be handled at the end of the talk. I didn’t get any photographs of them unfortunately, but here is a pair of cast fallow antlers that I found in the area about 10 years ago. Fallow deer cast their antlers in the spring every year but are generally lost in the undergrowth and often chewed by a variety of animals. I was very lucky to find these two matching antlers.
The Fallow deer are due to be rutting around October time, and their deep grunts will often be heard echoing around the Teign Valley during this time of year. Listen out for them if you go walking in the woods, particularly at dawn or dusk, but try not to disturb them as they go about their important business!