Roe Deer Diary

Friday 24th September 2010: A slight drizzle and cool north-westerly wind set in this afternoon. The poor light justified a signal boost to ISO 640; enough to hand-hold my Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM lens. I sat at the edge of a woodland, in East Sussex, for thirty minutes, waiting for the approach of two Roe deer. The north-westerly wind carried my scent away from the deer, while I remained hidden from sight, behind vegetation. At first, I thought one of them was a doe, but in actual fact, 'she' was a yearling buck, with tiny antlers, just a few inches long. The deer realised they had company when my camera shutter drew their attention to me. They have amazing hearing; the deer picked up my camera shutter from  the background noise of a keen wind and rustling leaves.  The lovely deer became slightly confused, albeit with a streak of curiosity. Instead of running in the opposite direction, as they normally do when they see me, they hung around for a couple of minutes, staring at me, before moving away and stopping again, to look back

Roe deer bucks

It pays to be patient: lying in wait ensures the deer are more relaxed, encouraging them to come closer than they would, if I pursued them on foot. It's a win-win situation, because the deer stay calm and I can revisit the same group of deer, as long as I don't cause them alarm. Of course, it helps, if doltish members of the public don't stray into the field by mistake or play appalling James Blunt songs from nearby car stereos, which is what happened last week.

Roe deer buck

The buck's summer coat is shedding itself, ready for the new growth of a much thicker, darker winter coat. His antlers will fall off in October or November. I will be up here through the autumn and winter, following the life of this small, loosely associated group as they become closer to one another throughout the inclement months.

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Thursday 30th September 2010: On this occasion, the south-westerly wind prompted me to sit in the north side of the field. I waited for the customary 30 minutes, before changing tact and venturing in a semi-circle down to the south side. It was here, that I found a small family group of roe deer, consisting of two bucks, one doe and her 4 month old kid, the sole survivor of a twin birth in late May. I do pray to Richard Dawkins, that the kid makes it through the winter. The kid had a few spots remaining and was still quite small. I should imagine that their feeding activity is high in preparation for the coming winter.

Roe deer buck

Small group of roe deer

Group of roe deer

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Wednesday 6th October 2010: I didn't think any roe deer were going to appear, until a doe and her kid (the same mother and child seen above) spotted me leaving the field and ran away. Interestingly, the kid ran at the same breakneck speed as her mother, despite only being half of her size. I celebrated afterwards with a nice pint of draught at a nearby pub.

Roe deer running away

Roe deer running away

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My visit on a slightly cold, dreary evening on Thursday 14th October 2010 concluded with a twenty minute session with three bucks and one doe. They now have their winter coat, but the antlers haven't fallen yet. The buck on the left is clearly the eldest of the group and his behaviour suggested that he was in charge. Any group member that got too close, he pushed away. I recognise the three bucks, but the doe isn't the one with the kid. She and her offspring were otherwise engaged elsewhere.

Roe deer

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