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29 August 2014
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Activities - Estates

Bird and deer safari

Deer rears

Parks and estates are great places to see how humans and wildlife once lived, and continue to coexist, alongside each other.

Take some top tips from the Nature's Calendar team to make the most of your wildlife watching opportunities.

Deer's rears - compare the markings on the deers' bottoms

Deer spotting at Fountains

Country estates are amongst the best places to go deer watching, and here are some top tips on making the most of your trip:

* Follow tell tale signs including animal tracks, and evidence of deer in wooded areas.

* Deer tracks are easily recognised by their prints - look for the shape of their tracks in the mud.

* Look up at the browse line on trees where the deer have munched to a certain height.

* The height of the browse line will tell you which species is doing the eating - look for the nibbling of bark and rubbing of trees with antlers.

* Identifying the various species of deer is relatively straightforward. One of the biggest clues lurks in the deer's heads and their tails.

* The Red Deer are bigger and have a ginger rear.

* Fallows have white bums with a black stripe, and the Sika are more of a white powder puff.

Harems of deer

DeerThe different species of deer also have different antlers.

These three species are a similar size, and from a distance this can be confusing - so one tip is to count their antlers.

Reds have 16 tips, Sika have eight, while Fallow have flattened antlers like Elk.

Winter is a great time to see the deer - the excitement of the rut is over so the deer are calmer, moving around in distinct groups.

Watch out for harems of Red Deer - the dominant male is easy to spot due to his size and antlers.

The non breeding males tend to hang about in groups together.

Visitors can get close to these fantastic animals because there are regular deer walks throughout the winter with expert rangers.

Owl watching

Tawny OwllThe Barn Owl is relatively easy to spot - it hunts by day in the cold winter.

The Short Eared Owl is also easy to find - it hunts first thing in the morning and at the back end of the day.

Look for its brown plumage with brown and white streaks and spots.

The Long Eared Owl is harder to find - it is nocturnal but can sometimes be found in hedges sleeping in ivy.

It has a dark brown upper body but lighter underparts, and is characterised by its distinctive ear tufts.

The Tawny Owl makes a 'tu-whit-tu-woo' sound which is easily identified.

It has chestnut brown plumage with streaked underparts.

Listen for the Tawny male's hooting call. These owls are at their noisiest in late winter and early spring.

The Little Owl is often active in daylight hours. This is our smallest owl with a squat appearance and large white spots.

Geese watching at Holkham

Pink Footed Geese in flightListen for the different sounds of the geese at Holkham estate.

White Fronted Geese are characterised by a high, laughing sound like a pack of dogs.

Pink Footed Geese make a deep nasal sound with high pitched, quick notes.

The best time to see the birds is first thing in the morning and at dusk when the Pink Footed Geese and return to their roosts.

The sight of 70,000 geese dropping out of the sky is an extraordinary spectacle.



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