Recently I was fishing on the River Forth when I noticed in the field opposite the river 3 Roe Deer in the middle of the field, they were staring intently at the tractors and lorries that are being used to build new paths along the river.
The activity spooked them and they took off at incredible speed to make their escape into the far off woods. It was great to capture these shy animals in such an open area and to see their amazing speed and agility.
Roe deer have a body size a little smaller than a labrador dog, but with long graceful legs. Males are called bucks and have short straight antlers. These horns drop off in the winter and are grown again by the end of the spring, ready for the August rut, or breeding season. Bucks are solitary, except during the rut, when they pair up with a female roe deer called a doe and small groups of three or four roe deer may be seen.
Although the breeding season, or rut, is in August, roe deer do not give birth until early summer. They are the only deer species to have a delayed implantation of their embryos which is thought to have evolved to avoid conflict for breeding territory with the larger red deer.
The doe gives birth to twin fawns in May or June keeping them apart for their first week and visiting each twin in turn to feed them. At this time fawns lie still relying on their spotted camouflage. They remain with their mother through the winter. The doe becomes solitary after the winter.
The roe buck is readily identified by the short antlers and markings on the head. The roe doe is smaller in size than the buck. In summer, the adult coat will be rich, foxy red. In winter, the adult coat becomes a greyish fawn colour, flecked with yellow. The rump patch becomes white and expands to form a large disc when they are excited or alarmed.
Roe Deer can run up to 40 miles per hour, jump 9 foot fences, and swim 13 miles.
Mating season for roe deer is in July and August. At this time, bucks chase does around prominent features such as a tree of large rock. This produces circles or figure-of-eight patterns of flattened vegetation, known as ‘roe deer rings’.
By the 1700s, the north of Scotland was the only part of Britain where native roe deer survived. Since then, re-introductions in many places and the cover provided by new plantations have allowed roe to spread and thrive.