Deer diary: The Attingham herd

Bucks in the deer park at Attingham Park.

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: Summer in the Deer Park 

 

June to August

Spring has turned to summer and after shedding their antlers towards the end of spring, the buck’s antlers are beginning to growing back, with a thin layer of ‘fuzzy’ skin over them. 

" Summer is a magical time for the herd – look out for the bucks basking in the summer sunshine near the Deer Park Bridge, on the main path through the Deer Park. "
- Colin Morris, Area Ranger, is Attingham's deer herd manager

Fallow fawns are born in June each year. The first fawns of the Attingham herd were born in early June this year. Fawns are rarely seen in the first few weeks of their life, and they will keep away from the busier areas of the Deer Park, retreating into the deer sanctuary, away from public areas. The fawns’ natural instinct is to remain still and quiet, hidden in bracken or long grass where their mothers, the does of the herd, can keep a close eye on them and protect them if needed. 

A young fawn amongst the nettles at Attingham Park
A young fawn in the nettles at Attingham Park
A young fawn amongst the nettles at Attingham Park

Help the herd - please do not touch

Fawns give off little or no scent in the first few weeks after being born. If you spot a fawn on your visit, do not approach it, and under no circumstances touch it as human scent can be transferred to the fawn and may cause the mother to abandon the baby. If you are concerned about a fawn or any of the herd please let one of the Attingham team know who will contact the Outdoor Team. 

Fallow deer roam the Deer Park
A fallow deer at Attingham Park standing on its hind leg to reach the taller branches
Fallow deer roam the Deer Park

Later in the summer

By the end of July the fawns will start to be seen more – they will be strong enough to keep up with their mothers if they need to run from danger, and will begin to stretch their legs and explore more of the park.

During the summer, the bucks are often described as being ‘in velvet’. This refers to the thin layer of coat and skin covering the antlers as they grow back. From August onwards the antlers are usually fully regrown and you may notice the bucks rubbing their antlers against the trees in the park to help get rid of the layer of skin, known as being ‘in tatters’. 
 

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.

The fallow deer herd at Attingham Park
Attingham's deer herd are descended from the orginal herd brought to Attingham by the second Lord Berwick in the 1700s
The fallow deer herd at Attingham Park

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.

Thomas, the 8th Lord Berwick, feeding the fallow deer
The 8th Lord Berwick out in the Deer Park feeding the fallow deer
Thomas, the 8th Lord Berwick, feeding the fallow deer