Monday, 17 December 2012

Artiodactyla ...

Ashdown Forest, 17 December 2012

Although Fallow Deer were present in Britain some 400,000 years ago, later glaciations restricted them to the Mediterranean basin. The Fallow Deer we see in Britain today, Dama dama ssp. dama, are the result of their re-introduction to Britain, probably by the Normans in the eleventh century; when they were released in forests as highly prized quarry. By the fourteenth century there were many parks where Fallow were hunted. It is from these extensive, wild expanses of land there evolved the landscaped deer park adjacent to a stately home, many of which remain today. The current feral population owes its existence largely to park escapes, both deliberate and accidental.

Ashdown Forest in East Sussex holds a good head of wild Fallow. With a considered and cautious approach, it is not impossible to get quite close; as the pictures below show. I managed to approach within 5 meters of these young wild females, part of a small herd of ten comprising seven young does and three juvenile bucks; which were grazing and resting in a small area of grassland. The second picture, of the same animal in the first shot, clearly shows the white rump patch outlined with characteristic black horseshoe, and the black stripe running down the tail, which is the longest of all British deer. The third picture, a profile shot showing a female with darker pelage, clearly shows the sub-orbital scent gland in front of and just below the eye.

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