Deer diary: The Attingham herd
Attingham is currently closed to restrict the spread of coronavirus. During this time you can read up on the estate from home.
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 herd live in the park.
Deer Diary: Spring in the Deer Park
The Rangers have stopped feeding the deer their ‘winter rations’ now, after what has been a relatively mild winter and spring has arrived in the Deer Park. The Deer Park was affected during the flooding of February and at times it was inaccessible due to the rising level of the River Tern, but the deer herd were not affected.
During the spring the bucks antlers begin to grow as there are more nutrients for antler development. The older the buck the large the antlers. Antlers continue to grow until fully formed throughout the spring and into the summer. As the season progresses and the antlers grow, 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.
When undisturbed, the herd feed, or ‘browse' (nibbling at leaves, bark, stems of plants to feed) at all times of the day, however their main feeding activity takes place around dawn and in the late afternoon or evening.
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.