Deer diary: The Attingham herd
Attingham’s Deer Park was created in 1798 as part of Thomas, 2nd Lord Berwick’s grand improvements to the Mansion and grounds. Today, around 200 fallow deer, descended from the original deer herd live in the park.
Deer Diary: Autumn in the Deer Park
September and October
During the autumn the deer feed on acorns and conkers that fall to the ground from the trees in the park – they’re a great source of food for building the herd up for the rut and the coming winter. At this time of year look out for the bucks rearing up on their hind legs to knock the branches with their antlers to knock down more.
Traditionally, the rut takes place in the month of October, and during it there is a change in the dynamic on the park; the mature bucks take up ‘rutting stands’; places to show off and try and attract does to mate.
The bucks will also test their strength against each other by pushing and shoving each other with their antlers locked. It is rare for this to result in serious injury in the herd, but minor injuries do occur.
It’s an important and stressful time for the deer herd, and we share this information with our visitors on site over the next month, to explain what is happening and emphasise the importance of sticking to the paths in the park and not approaching the deer while the rut takes place.
Of all the bucks on the park it will be just one or two that father the vast majority of the fawns born the following June
A wild herd
Deer are wild animals, and the Attingham herd is no exception. The Ranger team monitor the herd from a distance on a regular basis as they are unable to approach them too closely. This careful monitoring gives the team a good understanding the of deer’s behaviour, and means they can identify how the herd is feeling, whether they’re hungry, calm or may have been spooked by a stressful event.
A love of deer
The deer have always had a special place at the heart of Attingham. Thomas 8th Lord Berwick was particularly fond of the deer and fed them daily, with special favourites eating out of his hand. Thomas lived at Attingham from the early 1920s until his death in 1947. Following his wishes, his ashes and those of his wife Teresa (who lived at Attingham until her death in 1972) were placed at the memorial in the Deer Park, in a glade with views of the estate.
Following on from Thomas, the deer herd are today carefully managed by Attingham's rangers.