A late afternoon walk on a wet and gloomy day. The Forest is waterlogged in many places, so it was good to come to an area where pathways are maintained and where there are sometimes deer to watch in the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary. New Forest deer are free to come and go in this special area, but the grazing area in front of the viewing platform was empty.
In the New Forest, which was originally a royal hunting Forest for William the Conqueror, there are now four main species of deer :- Red, Fallow, Roe and Sika. Sometimes a little Muntjack can also be seen.
The notice below explains the changes that have taken place in the deer population over the centuries.
The Deer Sanctuary includes part of Bolderwood Arboretum, which has magnificent Giant Redwoods growing alongside smaller, mixed woodland trees.
Numerous small streams drain water away from the higher ground, towards the wet meadows.
On previous visits we have seen herds of fallow deer in these protected fields.
A downed conifer with its wild tangle of roots.
Piles of logs are left as insect habitat in the managed woodland glades.
New trees have been planted to replace the old.
There are small areas set aside for families to play and build log hides.
Young stands of deciduous trees grow in proximity to managed ancient yews.
A yew trunk after rain.
Some of the beeches were covered in a skirt of vivid green moss.....
.....which had attracted hungry deer ......
.....with sometimes disastrous results.
This raw patch of stripped bark was at deer browsing height. Their teeth had left scrape marks.
Slate Grey Dog was interested in the sweet smell of beech sap on the damaged trees.
She walks nicely to heel in a controlled space, but can pull strongly when we are out in exciting places.
She is learning to walk in a kind dog headcollar which reduces pulling and she seems much happier wearing it. At seven months old she is doing well and loves her Forest walks.
The light was falling as we walked back along the Forest tracks. Not a deer in sight today. Herds of pregnant hinds and their young from last year are keen to seek shelter in quiet places during late winter. The stags often roam the Forest in bachelor bands. A friend of mine saw three fine Fallow stags last week. They leapt across the road in front of her car as she drove home across the Forest at dusk.