• Deer in July

    The Roe Deer have been going through an elusive period. This is in doubt partly due to the expected secrecy associated with the birth of new fauns, but it may also be due to the relatively poor feed value of the grass on the more open fallow land during July. The other morning a single doe was to be seen in the middle of the beet field, well away from Keeper’s Wood, but this has been the sole sighting which I have had for some time. No
    sign of a faun on this occasion.

  • Midsummer deer

    For the last four weeks the Roe Deer have been keeping   a low profile. The group has dispersed, although on occasion the sandy doe is accompanied by the young buck, the
    majority of the time she can be seen on her own. This is preparation for giving birth in seclusion.

    As usual it is the ears that give her away in the ripening barley. Always alert she will monitor your progress along the railway line until she decides that you are safely out of the way. This is not always the case – a couple of weeks ago I caught a combination of young pheasant poults and the Roe doe wholly unawares. They sprang out from the fence line in unison and made their way to safety towards keeper’s Wood. The doe was the first to regain her composure and, having decided that she has a sufficient gap, recommenced grazing – panic over.

  • Brampton buck

    Roe Buck in late May
  • War wound

    This week the young Roe Buck carefully escorts a single doe. He is paying her constant attention; this is especially apparent because it allows us to approach to within yards before they start to sidle back towards the wood. The buck is carrying a war wound – presumably from a competitive joust with his older rival – a triangle of flesh on his left flank looks raw and fresh. This does not appear to have curbed his enthusiasm.

  • Roe in May

    It helps to have the breeze in your face. Particularly when walking up to the deer. The group seems to have dispersed around its usual stamping ground. Encounters with them this week have been when they graze quietly on their own or with one other. A heavily pregnant Roe doe sticks to the woodland edges unless she cannot catch your scent early enough.

    Wednesday morning was typical. The Whippets were not proceeding quietly, but the Doe did not really take any particular notice. A casual glance in our direction was all we got. Seemingly unfazed she made her dignified away along the edge of the barley towards the wood, stopping from time to graze.

    Her colouring is distinctive. A body of grey brown with light fox red points on the face, particularly around her eyes and on her front legs below the knee. As with all Roe Deer the base of her tail being surrounded by a contrasting white splash and the hint of a white moustache on the lower jaw.

  • Groups

    The Roe group this evening consisted of the older buck and two does. I doubt that this is a permanent change but it could show the looser ties which bind the herd as a result of the arrival of the younger buck. I wonder whether the young buck has been driven away and has taken the others with him. This can only be conjecture. I will continue to watch and take notes.

    It may be coincidence but the smaller group seems to be more nervous. They stay close to the sanctuary of the woodland edge and are vigilant. They don’t react to every noise or scent which drifts in their direction but they remain watchful. Perhaps this is the young buck and his splinter group. It is almost impossible to tell without the two males side by side.

  • Father & son

    Father and son rivalry is back in the parish. The return of grass growth over the past week has drawn the Roe deer out of their winter quarters.

    Last year’s offspring have turned out to be, as I suspected, one of each sex. The young buck, with this year’s antlers still covered in velvet, is annoying his father just by being there. In the soft morning light, the youngster generally keeps a respectful distance, but when he strays too close his father runs at him making him jink, swerve and put a few more yards in between. Over the next few weeks both bucks will scratch the velvet from their antlers and the competition will start in earnest. It will be interesting to see how long the youngster is tolerated within the family group.

  • Late November

    Winter appears to be getting a grip in late November. Long periods of rain have pressed the fallen leaves to a pulp. Some trees are valiantly holding on to their foliage, as ever the oaks seem to be the most resilient, but a sharp frost on the night of 16th November trimmed away the final leaves of the vast majority of the other species.

    The Roe deer have retired from grazing the fallow grasses. I assume that they have moved deeper into the woods, but I have had no sight of them for some time. The short days mean that they can probably glean what feed they require under the cover of darkness.

    Redwings and Fieldfares are active in large flocks along the railway line. Their distinctive calls providing a percussive backdrop to a morning walk.

  • Saturday morning Magpie

    A single Magpie takes up a sentinel like pose at the top of a Wild Cherry tree. The Cherry tree marks what we assume to be the on the edge of the old Roman shore. Before the Mill owners a and Dutch engineers contained of the Bure in it’s current course, this would have been the edge of marshy ground. The Magpie is surveying the country and from this position it cover a wide sweep of the Bure, grazing marshes, the village and the swell of rising ground towards Limekiln Farm. A rattling call sees it loop off in search of some unknown morsel.

    The Roe Deer are conspicuous by their absence. An hour after dawn and there is no sign. Perhaps the declining feed value of the grass near the Belt Wood has made them concentrate on other sources. The only reports I have are of Muntjac skulking around the sugar beet at Oxnead.

  • November deer

    The Roe group are fit and well – the doe and the two well grown fawns quietly graze on the fallow near the Belt Wood at first light on All Hallows day. The bulkier of the two fawns is clearly a male and this is shown in the way he moves – the youngster has presence.

    Watching deer really extends your knowledge of descriptive terms. These is the case for any creature which is a quarry species such as deer, or are used in hunting as with falconry.

    Their coats or pelage clearly show a dark chocolate strip along the top of their backs grading down to a rich tawny brown along their flanks. The underside of their lower jaw or the gorget is picked out with two white marks.. The white rumps which are very marked and seem to act as the group’s visual signal to each other are, rather depressingly, known as the target.

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