Deer Signs

Thursday, August 9th 2018

Foxglove has a healthy population of Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus), and the evidence from sightings and camera traps suggest that it has been a successful year for breeding with at least four fawns seen.  Not everyone is lucky enough to see them, especially in the Summer when they are more secretive and the leaves on trees make it easier for them to hide from human view.

However, there are still a number of signs of them around.  A group of Willow trees near to the lake seems to be a favourite place and these have been used for the bucks to rub the velvet from their antlers in the Spring once these have stopped growing.  Known as 'fraying', the bark of the tree is not stripped away but is broken up by the rubbing up and down of the hard material of the antlers.

Roe deer have also been using these trees during the Winter and early Spring to reach the sap underneath the bark.  This can be more serious for the tree as, if they strip the bark from around the trunk, it can kill the tree.  In the photo above, the stripped areas are showing how the tree is starting to heal with growth closing over the exposed wood.

July and August are also the time for other signs.  Forget the Red Deer rut often shown on BBC's Autumnwatch, as now is the time when strange rings appear, often known as 'fairy rings'.  These are the result of the rut for Roe Deer, and are the final part of the ritual where the Doe has led the Buck on a chase and he has finally met with her approval.  


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