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Head to your local forests to watch a spectacular show of your own this autumn

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Oak tree in Autumn

As the BBC’s Autumnwatch prepares to return to our screens the Forestry Commission in Cumbria is inviting people to head into their local forests and woodlands to spot the magnificent wildlife that can be found among the trees.

Cumbrian forests, like publicly owned Grizedale and Whinlatter, are among the best places in the country to see wildlife in the autumn.

Grizedale is home to the Furness Fells Herd - England’s only remaining indigenous woodland herd of red deer, which is Britain’s largest land mammal. Stags are often identified by their impressive and large antlers. The deer, much like the season, can also be recognised by their change in colour.  During the autumn they change from red to dark brown.

Autumn is the rutting season for red deer. If you are very lucky this is a stunning spectacle. Red stag’s roar on there stands impressing the hind females and warning off rival males.

Other wildlife that is particularly good to spot in autumn includes roe deer, buzzards, foxes, and squirrels.

Thanks to the Forestry Commission’s recent reintroduction of red kites into Grizedale, around 30 may also be seen settling into the forest this autumn.

Mike Thornley, Forestry Commission wildlife manager, said:

“There is an abundance of wildlife thriving on our estates at Grizedale and Whinlatter.

“Autumn is one of the best times of the year for spotting wildlife in our forests. You may catch a glimpse of deer or red kites, buzzards or squirrels on a walk through the trees.

“The animals are usually very active. In the case of the magnificent red deer, the rutting has got to be one of the most impressive natural sights in the UK.

“Other animals are busily making preparations for the winter and we now have red kites spread around Grizedale Forest following their release during the summer. It is an impressive sight to see them flying overhead.”

Although the Bassenthwaite ospreys have flown the nest there is still much to see around Whinlatter Forest at this time of year. Whinlatter is home to one of the 12 red squirrel reserves in the country.

The Forestry Commission is working with partners at Whinlatter to improve and develop long term conservation strategies that will deter the greys and allow the reds to thrive.

Special feeders have been set up along the Squirrel Scurry Trail to give people the best possible chance to see these elusive creatures.
Whinlatter is also home to badger, roe deer and is a scenic hunting ground for buzzards and Merlin.

Both Grizedale and Whinlatter offer a wide range of trails ideally suited for peaceful strolls through the trees. The waymarked routes provide a great opportunity for all ages; families; individuals and groups, to explore the forests.

More information about wildlife at Grizedale and Whinlatter is available from the website, log on to

Notes to editors

  1. The Forestry Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in Britain, with responsibility for more than one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest, woodlands and open countryside. The North West England Forest District covers the Lake District in Cumbria, the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire. The forests are managed for conservation, wildlife, landscape and recreation as well as providing a valuable source of timber.
  2. Grizedale Visitor Centre and Forest Park is bordered by Lake Windermere to the east and Coniston water to the west.  The nearest centres are Hawkshead and Ambleside.
  3. Whinlatter Forest, located near Keswick in the northern Lake District, is England’s only true mountainous forest.
    Media contacts: Sarah Bruce on 01229 8620111.