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Graceful Grazers

1st of November 2014

I always enjoy my first walk of the day with Ted, my dog. I get out of bed needing fresh air the way some folk need a cup of tea, so as soon as I am dressed we go out. If we are nice and early we see more wildlife, but we don’t always manage it! There was a glorious sunrise this week and in its golden glow we saw a roe deer with her kid. Her summer coat was a wonderful foxy red, improved by the sunrise, but her kid was quite a dull brown. By the time you read this her winter coat will be through and she will be the same colour as her offspring. We regularly see two different does; one had twins, as a roe usually does, and another with a single. I assume that, like sheep, they start by having one and then produce twins in the following years. I was lucky to get a glimpse of this singleton when it was very young and still in its spotted coat. Their mothers leave them to go off and graze, trusting that their camouflage will keep them safe. I saw it get up and stretch, just for a moment, then curl up again among the ferns. I did not want Ted to disturb it, so I turned away and left it in peace. Ted is generally very good; he knows he should not chase the deer but is allowed to chase foxes and always gives them a good run for their money.

Roe bucks will be losing their antlers soon and I will be keeping my eyes open for the shed ones to add to my collection. They are not large, usually with three points after they are two years old, and have bumps, known as pearls, at the base. They are not easy to find, but I have been lucky in the past.

Roe deer numbers have increased greatly in the last few years and, in some places, they have become pests, damaging young trees by nibbling the shoots and fraying the lower branches. I am having some thinning done in some of my woodland at the moment and, although we were going to do it over three years, we have decided to do it in one go so that there will be more coppice regrowth than the roe can eat at once. We hope!
I would hate to think of them as pests in the future. They are so graceful and elegant, but they do taste nice, when properly cooked! Wendy Bathurst

This page is edited by Tony

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