Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The taste of deer

click photo to enlarge
Yesterday I was thinking about the taste of deer. We visited the National Trust-owned stately home of Belton House, near Grantham, Lincolnshire. Part of the extensive grounds surrounding the seventeenth and eighteenth century house is a deer park and the taste of deer was prompted by the sight of the large guards round the younger trees where the deer roamed.

By the "taste of deer" I don't mean to allude to the flavour of venison, but rather, the liking of deer for particular kinds of tree bark - the reason for those guards in today's photograph. I had remembered reading, a while ago, that some species of tree bark were favoured over others. A little research turned up the list I'd seen. Apparently, though preferences vary according to deer species, the availability of other food, season and the type of site, as far as bark stripping (as opposed to leaf browsing) goes certain trees are more sought after. Willow, ash and rowan top the list followed by aspen, lodgepole pine, beech, Norway spruce and other species. There seemed to be a variety of trees protected by guards at Belton, and the fallow deer that make up the park herd had clearly been kept at bay by the steel and wood guards. Some mature trees, however, particularly beech, showed a distinct "browse line". This was where the shoots that commonly cluster at the base of the trunk had been eaten but were untouched higher up.

I spotted this shot as we drove into the grounds and walked back to take it before the sun got any higher and the silhouettes and colours were less strong and the frost had melted.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 56mm (84mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/250 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On