Deer birthing season
In late May the deer give birth to their young. The Red hinds produce calves, and the Fallow does produce fawns. The young are not ready to follow their mothers in the herd for one or two weeks. Until then, they lie hidden in deep grass or bracken. Their mothers graze in the vicinity, returning at intervals to groom and suckle them. At this stage the young are very vulnerable to disturbance from humans or attack by dogs and is when the mothers can be very defensive. So please: -
- Do not touch very young deer as it may result in them being abandoned by their mothers and thus failing to survive.
- Stay clear from females – we recommend 50m and if you notice a lone female on ‘high alert’ it would reduce her anxiety to retrace your route and give her a wide berth.
- Dog walkers are advised to walk away from the park, or if you choose to walk in the park please stay clear of the remote quiet places where the deer are more likely to have young and stay on the busier areas that are generally at the edge of the park.
Some birds of prey swallow their food whole, but instead of digesting all the body parts, they regurgitate the inedible pieces (predominantly bones and fur) as pellets. They look like small balls of grey fur, sometimes with a few bones sticking out and are relatively easy to find and identify.
In Richmond Park pellets are produced by Tawny Owls, Little Owls, Sparrowhawks, Kestrels and Jackdaws.
The location of a pellet may be an indication of the species as they tend to like different habitats - Tawny Owls and Sparrowhawks frequent woodland areas whilst Little Owls and Kestrels feed in more open grassland.
Condition and quantity can be an indication of how frequently and recently the bird was present whilst size shape, and importantly contents, can be an indication of species.
Pellets can be dissected by soaking in water and teasing apart the fur to reveal the bones of a variety of prey animals. There are plenty of online guides to identify both the pellets and the bone contents. If you handle pellets do take sensible hygiene precautions!
Dog waste has to be picked up everywhere in the park (it’s unpleasant to tread in and particularly awful for young children). There are health issues associated with dog waste and it is detrimental to wildlife as it ‘fertilises’ the soils, adversely changing the conditions and plants that can grow there.
The Royal Parks has placed bins wherever they can drive a vehicle without going off road and damaging the ground – a total of 118 bins. The park bins received around 100 tonnes of rubbish per year, of which 48% is dog waste. It takes a lot of dog owners to pick up a lot of waste to generate this tonnage but there are still plenty of people that don’t pick up, going by what can be seen on site.
Failure to pick up after your dog is an offence under the Park Regulations and other legislation and can result in a penalty from the Metropolitan Police. Discarding a bag of waste is also classed as littering which could result in an additional prosecution that could have additional fines. Abandoned bags of dog waste are found scattered across the park where they are ingested by the deer ultimately with fatal results.
If you spot other dog walkers leaving waste please report them to the police by dialling 101.