|Roe Deer print showing dew claws.|
Path side verges and particularly the grassy slopes of the Avenue and the field in front of the Hall are good places to look for badger feeding signs. Worms form the bulk of their diet (except in autumn when fruits and berries are greedily consumed) and these are taken in huge numbers often leaving the turf roughly scuffed with lots of small depressions called ‘snuffle holes’. These holes are not to be confused with similar ones which they dig and use to deposit their droppings in (rather like cats though badgers do not bother to cover theirs) and these can also be seen on the Avenue.
Deer feeding signs are also plentiful and can also be found on most of the path side verges. They browse lots of different herbaceous plants and shrubs and also have a liking for many flowers. Look for bramble (blackberry) stems with all the leaves stripped off. Yew trees are also eaten up to a height of one metre (the reach of a roe deer) and at the end of the Avenue you can see a ‘browse line’ on the yews lining the Hollow walk. They also feed on the needles of young pine trees and fallen trees and branches.
Deer droppings, known as fewmets, are deposited in groups and are almost black (darkest green) in colour, shiny and elliptical. They look rather like those of rabbits but are usually indented on one end and pointed at the other.
Male deer, known as bucks, grow their antlers in winter under a covering of velvet and in spring this is rubbed off on young saplings, removing the bark in the process up to a height of 12 to 18 inches. Look out for these damaged trees on roadside verges and occasionally you may find the velvet hanging from them.
If you would like to learn more about wildlife tracks and signs there are several good books available including the following:
Animal Tracks and Signs (Pocket Nature Guide) by Preben Bang & Preben Dahlstrom
And for children:
Animals, Tracks and Signs (Usbourne Spotters Guide) by Alfred Leutscher & Sarah Kahn
Animals, Tracks and Signs Sticker Book (Usbourne Spotters Sticker Guides) by A L & Chris Shields
Alternatively one of our rangers is leading a ‘Tracks and Signs’ walk on Sun. 25th March at