June

A shaggy hind stands amongst the grass and bracken in a clearing in the woods.
Shaggy hind in grass and bracken.

The story begins this month with the hinds, often found away from the rest of the herd. They seem to still be looking for safe places in the woodland areas, often though quite close to the path above on the edge. Thankfully most humans stay up on the edge, so they are not too concerned at seeing one looking at them from above!


A sleeker hind stands in the bracken. She must have shed most of her winter coat already.
Sleek hind in the bracken.

Grass and bracken seem quite popular areas to lurk in, eating grass and waiting... This one seems to have moulted more of her winter coat, so appearing much smoother. Unshed thicker winter fur can give a very shaggy and unkempt appearance, but this hind looks a lot more presentable than the previous one.


A hind with new born in tow, walking carefully amongst the moorland cotton grass.
Hind with new born in tow.

A very careful hind and calf walking through the heather and cotton grass on the moor, close to but now moving away from the secret woodland areas. She may have just bought her new born calf up from the woods, to introduce it to the rest of the herd. The red coat and white spots of the calf evolved for camouflage, although here on the moorland the redness in the fur makes it quite easy to see against the darker brown of the heather.


The calf follows mum very closely as the walk across the moor, with a backdrop of heather, grass and cotton grass.
The calf follows it's mother very closely.

The calf is staying very close to the hind, as she checks the moorland ahead for any signs of danger. A hind with young new born calf is very nervous, and will most often be the first to move if any possible threat is perceived. That threat may just be people seen walking in the distance, with the rest of the herd not even disturbed as she moves away.


Checking to the right.

Even after the mother with new born calf has moved away, the rest of the herd is still relaxed, just checking for any signs of danger. Here the hinds that have no calf yet are just looking towards a nearby footpath with people walking on it. The hind with calf is no longer with the rest of the herd, as she has removed her new offspring from the merest hint of danger.


Two hinds with new born calves run away from any possible danger, across the moorland cotton grass.
If in doubt, run away!

Here two hinds with new born calves run away from any possible danger, across the moorland cotton grass. The deer are normally a little more at ease with people walking along footpaths within their territory, but with new born calves they are easily spooked. The calf furthest away is showing a clean pair of hooves, even at such a young age they are capable of some speed!


A hind appears to be waiting for something, quietly grazing on her own in the tall grass near the woods.
Waiting for something?

A hind appears to be waiting for something, quietly grazing on her own in the tall grass near the woods. There may be many more calves to come yet. In the next few weeks most if not all of the pregnant hinds will give birth. In the meantime, they relax and eat, going down to the woods when it seems right to them. It will not be the time of the stags for some months yet, so everything is quiet and peaceful here.


A hind waits on the moorland in grass and cotton grass, for an opportunity to cross the path and get to the woods.
Waiting to go down to the woods.

A hind waits on the moorland in grass and cotton grass, for an opportunity to cross the path and get to the woods. The winter coat she is still shedding gives her much more camouflage in the yellowed grass and white speckled cotton grass, than the red summer coat will. The spotted coat of the new born calves seems the perfect camouflage for this cotton grass rich area.


A few days later more calves begin to appear with the herd.
More calves appear!

A few days later more calves begin to appear with the herd. The herd waits nearby to the woods, as if giving the hinds who give birth an easy route back to join them, yet far enough away for some secrecy for the pregnant ones. They do not want to draw attention to the newly born calves which will not be able to join them immediately, instead being left in hidden the long grass for a time as they gain strength.


There are as many calves as hinds now, congregating in the cotton grass.
Plenty of calves.

The calves are appearing at a rapid pace now, following a potentially solitary birth at the end of May, the first weeks of June see many more arrivals. All seem to follow the same pattern, with the main herd waiting close by on the moorland top, with hinds going down the edge to the woodland to give birth, and then bringing their new born calves back up to the herd as soon as they are mobile.


There now appear to be more calves than hinds on the moor, still waiting in the cotton grass.
More calves than hinds?

There now appear to be as many calves as hinds about, still waiting in the cotton grass. It is possible for a hind to have more than one calf, but it is not common. Perhaps the hinds are already engaging the help of kindly aunts to run the crèche for them, or calves are showing their herding instincts, finding safety in numbers, and perhaps preferring those of a similar size to themselves! 


Once more we see a solitary hind on her own near the trees, surrounded by new grown bracken, and the brown remains of last years plants.
Another day in the bracken.

Once more we see a solitary hind on her own near the trees, surrounded by new grown bracken, and the brown remains of last years plants. Quite soon the bracken will become an almost impenetrable jungle of tall stems and leaves, well above deer height, and especially calf height. We may see in the coming months the deer's preference for this foliage as cover. Even though they can be unseen under the green cover, it is not so thick at ground level that they can't push through and even form path ways for easy and safe travel.


On the higher ground, above the woods and the gritstone edges, deer graze on moorland grasses amongst the cotton grass.
The moorland landscape with deer.

On the higher ground, above the woods and the gritstone edges, deer graze on moorland grasses amongst the cotton grass. In the distance the grass gives way to heather in large patches, interspersed with grasses in repeating strips. This could be natural variation in the foliage on the moors here, as there appears to be no heather burning currently, unlike on actively farmed grouse moors. Some areas of these moorlands were farmed in the Bronze Age, but have been little used since then.


A group of young stags with the beginnings of antler growth walking through the green heather shrubs.
Young antlers.

A group of young stags with the beginnings of antler growth walking through the green heather shrubs. These young males have only the smallest buds of antler growth. In the coming months the antlers will appear to have erupted from these stumps, with fur covered bone extending well beyond the pedicles, to in some cases many tined sets of antlers.


Does this glum looking young stag standing in the heather shrubs know his antlers will grow back?
Cheer up, they will grow back!

Does this glum looking young stag standing in the heather shrubs know his antlers will grow back? Maybe he has been taken by surprise at the loss of his antlers from last year, and perhaps his pedicles are a little sore! Last month we saw some stags with newly shed antlers, showing pedicles and pink holes were their antlers used to be. Losing them for the first time might be a little shocking!


White Edge deer quite easy to see in the moorland grass, with Hardwick Hall in the distance.
Moorland deer with Hardwick Hall in the distance.

The red coats of the deer are easy to see against the yellow and green of the moorland grass. In the distance Hardwick Hall and the ruined house adjacent to it can be seen just below the horizon. The grounds of Hardwick Hall were likely once home to red deer, as the residence was at times used as a hunting retreat. Bess of Hardwick commissioned the hall in the later 16th century, when she also owned Chatsworth, home to the herd of deer where the deer seen here probably originated as 20th century escapees. Could the modern deer population here be related to the deer that once lived at Hardwick Hall?


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