If you find yourself out and about in the park or up on the moor at Lyme over the next few months, then you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one of our new arrivals. It is now the time of year for our red and fallow deer to be giving birth!
Both deer species will usually produce a single offspring, known as a ‘fawn’ if it’s a fallow or a ‘calf’ if it’s a red. Shortly before giving birth, the pregnant hind (red) or doe (fallow) will seek an isolated spot, a short distance away from the rest of the herd. Once born, with a little bit of gentle encouragement from mum, the calf or fawn will be quick to find its feet and start suckling. The young of both species are born with a spotted coat and when lying motionless in tall grass it creates excellent camouflage. This adaptation enables them to remain concealed from potential predators while their mother is away feeding.
|A hungry red deer calf leans in towards its mother to feed. |
Note its prominent white spots which will disappear with its first moult.
Within the first few weeks mum will also ensure its young remains scentless and undetectable through regular cleaning. A routine which includes… yes you guessed it… Eating poo! Nice. Seriously though, this careful attention can make the difference between life and death for these newborns.
If you are fortunate enough to spot a fawn or calf, please ensure that you keep a suitable distance and that dogs are kept on a lead if you are walking through the fallow deer sanctuary or in areas of the park where the deer are prevalent. Getting too close will make them feel vulnerable and stressed, particularly at such a young and sensitive age.
To find out more about red and fallow or any of the other four species of deer found in Britain, take a look at the British Deer Society website where you can also download some fantastic information sheets: