British Nature Guide
A thousand years ago, The Wrekin was the centrepiece of a vast Royal hunting forest where a strict code of practice existed to protect the ‘venison and vert’. Unsurprisingly, deer and their habitat (which is what that archaic phrase refers to) are still cornerstones of the modern day woodlands around the hill, and a glimpse of the area’s largest mammal is certain to evoke the zeitgeist of millennia past! While Roe and Muntjac are present here, too, the Fallow Deer (Dama dama) is perhaps the species most readily identifiable with these ancient woods. Indeed, many local populations of these free-roaming animals were first established in medieval times when deer parks sprung up across the land (including our very own Wellington Hay, former entrances to which are still commemorated in the town by names such as Haygate Road and the Wickets pub). If you’ve ever witnessed large Fallow herds in the grounds of stately homes or country estates, their behaviour in larger woodlands may come as a surprise for they tend to remain largely solitary outside the autumn rut. Grassland grazers by choice, they also browse the shoots of young trees and low-growing shrubs, especially in winter. So, searching broad-leaved woods with a rich understorey (in addition to woodland edge farmland) could easily provide a close encounter with a direct connection to the area’s medieval past.
Quick ID: tan coat with white spotting on the flanks, and a white rump framed by distinctive black horseshoe marking. Antlers, which grow to around 70 centimetres, increase in size with age (males are palmate to around three years old).
When and Where: Fallow deer are active by day and night and can turn up just about anywhere in the Wrekin Forest: the farmland between Little Hill and Spout Lane, the woodlands of St Lawrence’s Hill and Dairy Pit Coppice, and the grasslands of the Wrekin golf course are just three locations worthy of attention.
Links: Wrekin DeerBack to top ten