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SPOTTING deer through early morning mists has often been an evocative picture for both wildlife photography and nature programmes, but anyone willing to get up early enough can now go one better.

Deer are early risers but if you want to see them for real, then a trip to Kielder Water and Forest Park will be well-worth setting the alarm for.

The Forestry Commission is offering a rare opportunity to join a special winter safari, where a Forestry Ranger will take a group to search out the elusive creatures.

Although it will be difficult to get close to them, this time of year will offer a very atmospheric setting in which to spot them, as the weather gets colder and the mornings darker. And with Christmas coming, spotting the distant relations of Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer is a way for parents and children alike to get into the festive spirit.

Kielder Water and Forest Park has 62,000 hectares (155,000 acres) of wilderness, that some 6,500 roe deer call home. Roe deer are identifiable by a white patch on their rear.

The creatures spend the cold winter months roaming the hills, foraging for food, and are most active at either end of the day.

Although this means an early start for the safaris, it does mean the party can come back to Kielder Castle and enjoy a hearty English breakfast, included in the price.

Ranger Malte Iden said: "It's always thrilling to see any animal in its natural habitat, but a glimpse of roe deer is something very special."

There are two opportunities, on December 7 and 14, setting out at 7.30am. It costs pounds 12, pounds 10 concessions. Contact Kielder Castle on (01434) 250209.


ELUSIVE Safaris to spot the elusive roe deer are being organised at Kielder Water and Forest Park.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 18, 2008
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