Country: Nature Notes

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The Independent Culture
THE ANNUAL fallow deer rut is reaching its climax this weekend, with master bucks parading up and down their traditional stands as they lure does and challenge rivals with the curious call generally known as "groaning". This sounds like an outsize pig snorting repeatedly, and you would swear that it is made through the nose. In fact it comes from the throat, as the buck lowers his head, pushing his chin up and out.

Fallow range in colour from creamy white to very dark grey, the most attractive strain being the menil, which has strong white spots on a chestnut background.

Unlike red and roe deer, which are indigenous to Britain, fallow deer were imported from the Continent by either the Romans or the Normans.

For centuries their ornamental appearance and excellent venison have made them the favourite species of deer-park owners; but during the Second World War, when fences and walls fell into disrepair, many herds escaped, forming the basis for today's large wild population.

In parks the bucks often rut under large trees. In the wild they seem to prefer fairly open woodland, with light overhead cover, and return year after year to ancestral stands. It is hard to see what draws them to these particular areas; some people believe it is the influence of ley lines.