The days are drawing in, the wind is getting cold and air remaining damp, but watching the deer going about their day provides a warm smile to anyone's face in Wollaton park, Nottingham. It seems strange that right next to a city is the perfect place to see a thriving Red deer population. This deer park however has one of the largest groups known in Nottinghamshire, and being so tame, you are able to get some fantastic views at this time of year.
Something quite unique about the deer on this park is the fact that they happily graze and go about their daily business on a golf course. Having people around all day means that the deer are not phased in the slightest by any photographers, or general public wishing to peer in on their daily life. Wollaton hall is an estate known for its natural history and with this, the golfers know that one of their tasks on the 18 holes is to get a birdie and not a red deer at the same time!
If one wishes to not just see the deer grazing peacefully on the greens, but to catch some fighting action, it is highly recommended to visit early in the morning to catch the ruts. The mornings are getting darker, so you do not have to get up until around half past 6 in the morning if the crack of dawn doesn't seem too much of a challenge. However horrible the idea sounds when you are tucked in bed, I can promise you that it will be worth every wink missed.
The males are becoming quite territorial at the moment, so it is important to respect their space, but this behavior provides the perfect opportunity to observe the hierarchy operating within the group. In particular, it was brilliant to see one large group of females protected by the largest male within sight forming his harem. On the nearest hill 50 yards to the left of me, a group of younger males lay, ruminating and presumably saving their energy to perhaps sneak a mating in while the dominant male was off gaurd. It was so exciting to be able to see the social structure of these groups, and to think who may be playing which tactic to father the next generation
I urge anybody around this area to pay the red deer of Wollaton park a visit. It is a glowing gem within the bustling city life, and every time I go I wonder why it has been so long since the last visit.