Chance to explore Holkham estate on a deer safari
A series of special deer safari tours has been launched on the Holkham estate.
Visitors to the estate had the chance to glimpse around 50 red deer and 400 fallow deer during the weekend tours.
The red deer, a native species, was introduced to the park 10 years ago while the fallow deer, which are thought to have been brought to England by the Normans, have made the estate their home since 1845.
At Holkham they are practically self-sufficient though when the winter grows harsh the estate puts out supplementary food such as sugar beet.
Leaves, tree bark, chestnuts, acorns and lichen plus a rich diet of grass suffice most of the year.
The tours were conducted by visitor’s guide, Tracey Sizeland, who explained how a deer’s age could be worked out by the size of their antlers and that, like cows, they were ruminants. They cropped the grass mainly at dawn and dusk and spent the day ‘chewing the cud’.
Visitors listened, asked questions, cameras clicked and binoculars were trained on anything that moved as the tour wound around the estate.
The stags are about to enter the rutting season when they fight for the right to mate with the females.
This jousting is this annual battle of the survival of the strongest that ensures a genetically strong bloodline.
“We also control the numbers,” said Tracey, explaining that the present herd numbers were the maximum that could be maintained in a healthy condition.
Occasional culls provided venison for nearby Wells, Burnham Market and Holkham’s Victoria Inn.
Further tours are planned for the next two weekends and from October 21 to 24.