As a very wet and blustery Winter finally gives way to Spring, the animals and plants at Normanby Park are slowly adjusting to the much appreciated gentle warmth and gradually lengthening days.
The progression of the year from March into April has seen the supplementary feeding of sugar beet to the deer herds cease, as more natural vegetation appears within their habitat. The gradual increase in temperature has encouraged the grasses and trees in the deer park to begin to wake up, producing a steady new growth of shoots and leaves.
Although rather cold, the windy weather experienced throughout the Winter has brought with it one benefit to the deer: The fallen tree branches brought down by the wind have provided the herds with the opportunity to add to their diet as they enjoyed stripping the fresh bark from a variety of trees in the deer park.
Both the Red Deer and Fallow Deer herds are currently spending the majority of time in mixed sex herds (including Stags – Male, Hinds – Female and Calves – Young in the case of Reds; Bucks – Male, Does – Female and Fawns – Young in the case of Fallow).
Perhaps the most notable event occurring for the deer at the moment is that of the Red Stags beginning to cast their antlers (you can see a picture of this below)
By April, almost all of the mature males had shed their antlers, leaving only one of the large Stags still to lose his. This shedding of the antlers is a natural process which happens at this time every year. The new antlers begin to re-grow almost straight away, in a steady process which will last from now until around August. As the antlers grow they are covered in a velvet skin which feeds them with nutrients as they develop.
The Fallow Bucks have yet to begin to cast their antlers, but will soon begin to follow suit in the coming days.
Let’s hope that the current warmer weather continues throughout the Spring, providing a welcome recovery time for the deer to enjoy the warmth and fresh vegetation in the deer park at Normanby. As the year progresses, we can look forward in preparation for the exciting times ahead with the new young arriving in the coming Summer months.
Parks and Gardens Team
Normanby Hall Country Park