This morning I stepped blearily out of bed to see a roe deer grazing on the small hill that forms one side of our new garden here on the island of Luing. She was no more than five metres away. Not for the first time did I wish I’d had my Canon repaired. Lesson learnt.. and apologies for picture quality.
When, within minutes, I’d spotted a second deer on the lawn below, I realised we had a pair – and not a mother and fawn as previously thought. Observing them through binoculars it was even possible to see the texture of the coat and the moistness of her eyes.
It’s often said that seeing wildlife up close is a privilege.. and it felt that way. Roe dear – eradicated altogether in England during the 18th Century – may no longer be scarce,
but still inspire, and reward the patient observer with their graceful and elegant gait.
It is likely this pair will have mated in July/August. There is a delay in the implantation of the fertilised egg in the female – perhaps an evolutionary aid to successful upbringing of the young so as not to be in competition with offspring of the Red Deer. Lovely to think she is likely to be pregnant with kids right now.
The kids – most often twins, sometimes triplets are born in May/June. To be found lying amongst bracken, bramble or long grasses – the kids are not abandoned, merely concealed, usually in separate locations – the mother returning to feed each individually.
Roe Deer are herbivores and graze many types of ground level vegetation, and the growing shoots and leaves of heather, holly and beech trees. We have unwittingly created their perfect habitat – our garden being situated on the side of a wooded hill studded with oak trees providing food and cover to and from the heather-strewn moorland above us.
We inherited, and have planted anew several types of holly for evergreen and enduring cover in what will be the indigenous stormy winters. We strimmed and cleared the hill beside us of bracken and brambles except where it became too precarious to venture. In so doing we provided camouflaged cover, hiding holes, soft warm bedding.. and encouraged new growth of all previously concealed ground level plants. Bed and Breakfast for Deer!
It’s probably unlikely that the Roe will give birth on our hillside, remote though it is.
I’m happy still that my interpretation of the scraping marks, and the indentations there have turned out to be the nesting and feeding indications I’d hoped for.
It remains to be seen if our wild visitors take a liking to stripping bark off my recently-planted damson tree. Or if they can resist the ‘sea-holly hedge’ my loved one planted this morning. They may be a picturesque pair, and the bucks obvious concern for the safety of his mate is very endearing to watch..
However – it wasn’t until many hours later that I noticed the tell-tale footprints in my new border and realised he had stripped my miniature rose bush, named Red Romance, of about 30 healthy flowers. Well I suppose it was too much to expect him to present a bouquet to his doe. That only happens in the Disney version. I don’t doubt that she is still his..