Saturday, 22 October 2016

My Gloucestershire Holiday (Part 5)

Dyrham House
It is our last day in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and we are at Dyrham Park. It is also the last time we will see my brothers for a while. Though my youngest brother couldn't make it out with us today, my other brother, Frazer and his family did and we enjoyed a day at the 17th century manor house and it's 270 acre grounds.

The gardens
Little Grebe

Fallow Deer Buck
The park has a large herd of fallow deer and as it is still the rutting season, I was really interested in getting close views of them. We had to climb a slightly steep hill to get to them, but we managed to get close enough without spooking them too much. Only two bucks out of the herd ran from us while approaching them. The rest continued to graze with the bucks checking out the readiness of the females to reproduce by smelling them, while also rubbing their antlers on branches as testosterone levels rise.

Fallow Deer Doe
Sniffing out the females

Mum, Frazer and Ava gets a close encounter!
Dad and I sat on a log as still as we could while watching the deer action happening in front of us. Meanwhile, Mum and Frazer with baby Ava strapped to him hid behind an adjacent tree. The deer soon ignored our presence and continued with grazing. We must have blended in with the background extremely well as deer were arriving from behind us. First was a small group of does walking to the larger group we were watching, striding casually past Mum and Frazer's tree. After the does joined the herd, my mum and brother left the tree and sat with us on the log.

A calf suckles from it's mother
Two bucks face each other without confrontation

Then, a second group of does joined by two bucks arrived from the same direction as the first group, walking past the same tree as Frazer and Mum were hiding behind. One of the two bucks was bellowing loud grunting sounds, which Mum describes as sounding like belching. This individual was in full rutting mode, announcing it's fitness to rivals and females. It marched its way into the herd to show off its dominance. This caused two other bucks to break away from the herd and head into our direction. These two large animals, each armed with a set of impressive, yet fearsome antlers that could easily do harm to us, walked past us with a matter of metres between us and them. An awesome way to end a holiday.
This buck was grunting loudly
Just metres away from us!

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