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New Opportunities

2nd of December 2006

With the opening of the new footpath on the Kings Langley side of Whippendell Hill Ted, our young labrador, and I have a new circular early morning walk. Many thanks to all those involved in this excellent project. We set out along “our” footpath to the Land  Rover garage, often seeing a fox cross the path. Then it’s a left turn and under the now silent rookery, down the hill, over the road and on to the new path. Left at the top takes us on through the pony paddocks and to Ted’s favourite place – Scatterdells Woods.
If we go right and slightly up hill we walk just below my “Grammer field” and I am hoping we will get a glimpse of the Roe Deer that often feed there. We have seen some slots, or tracks, along the path and at the edge of the field, but Roe are rather elusive, probably the hardest deer of all to see. They are much bigger than Muntjac, but not as big as Fallow. In the summer they have bright orange-brown coats, but just now they will be sporting a thicker dull greyish-brown coat,  but they always have a large round white rump patch. Often this is the only bit one sees! They have a wonderfully graceful bounding run, almost as if on springs, another sign that it’s a Roe Deer. The bucks have short pronged antlers, building up to four prongs after they are four years old. These are shed in late autumn, and how I would love to find one, but that is even harder than spotting the Roe itself! In the last few years there has been a great population increase for Roe. The does usually have twins, but if there is plenty of food about, triplets become common. If we are lucky enough to see them it will most likely be a doe and her fawns. She will not drive them off her patch until next spring, just before her next offspring are born. The bucks live very solitary lives, except in late July and August when they seek out the does to mate.
So far, apart from the tracks, we have only seen Muntjac. As the mornings draw in I hope our chances will improve. Even  if it is only the sight of a white rump bounding gracefully away it will brighten a winter morning!
Wendy Bathurst

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