A monarch and master of all that he surveys

IF you happen to be travelling from Leeds to Harrogate on the Number 36 bus, it's always worth clambering up to the top deck if you can. The views open up once you're out of the city and on a good day you get enticing glimpses of the Dales in the distance.

A lone stag relaxes in the grounds of Harewood, near Leeds.
A lone stag relaxes in the grounds of Harewood, near Leeds.

If you’re lucky, as I have been on several occasions, you might also catch a glimpse of some of the deer in the grounds of Harewood House - like the lone stag seen here relaxing in this exquisitely framed autumnal scene.

It is a sight that can be traced back through the ages. Harewood has been home to a deer park since medieval times and has three types of deer spread over some 4,000 acres of land. There are roughly 155 Red, 45 Fallow and 45 Roe deer at present with the number fluctuating when the calves are born in early summer.

The Red deer, once rare in some parts of Europe, are now one of the largest deer species. Successful reintroduction and conservation efforts, particularly in this country, have led to a noticeable increase in their numbers.

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    It’s interesting to note that Red Deer vary in colour depending on the season and habitat in which they live - they tend to have a grey or lighter colour in winter and then adopt a more reddish and darker coat during the summer months.

    Also at Harewood are Fallow Deer. Native to Europe and the Middle East, they can be identified by their chestnut coat and distinctive white mottles in summer which then becomes darker and unspotted in the winter.

    Fallow deer were introduced in Britain by the Romans and are now widespread here. Roe Deer, on the other hand are native to Britain. Smaller, with reddish and grey-brown colouring, they are well suited to our colder climate. Quick and graceful it was a Roe Deer that was inspiration for Bambi (though he was changed to a White-Tailed deer for the movie).

    So next time you’re heading along the A61 try and keep your eye out for these majestic animals.

    Technical details: Nikon D4, Lens Nikon VR 70-200mm, Shutter Speed 1/500s, Aperture f/5.6, ISO 800.

    Picture: James Hardisty

    Words: Chris Bond