Roe deer shenanigans at the Falls of Clyde

We caught this interesting and energetic footage on the Falls of Clyde trail camera, at a time when most of us are tucked up, cosy in our beds.

As you can see, there are two roe deer having a great carry on, tearing about in the woodlands. Over the past couple of weeks, we have recorded a number of instances of them exhibiting this behaviour. But what on earth are they up to? Are they trying to escape predators, hurriedly returning to protect their young, or rushing to find the most succulent leaves, before anything else gets there? As summer marches on, this chasing behaviour can only mean one thing…it is the start of the mating season, or rut as it is known in deer.

If you look at the video again, you will see the adult buck (male), identified by his antlers, in hot pursuit of the doe (female), checking to see if she is in breeding condition. They run in a circle or figure of eight making well trodden rings, about 1-3m in diameter, often with a bush or tree in the centre. The doe will only stop to mate with when she is ready to. The female is testing the buck’s fitness and will only choose him if he is in peak condition and able to keep up with her, in a race to select the best genes for her future offspring.

The roe deer rut is usually July to August. The males will battle with each other, locking antlers and twisting their heads, sometimes causing fatal injuries to both parties. Roe deer have overlapping and not exclusive territories, so a male may mate with several females in the area, but the same can be said for the females too. Does attract the buck with a high pitched piping call and the bucks respond with a rasping noise, which can be heard in the footage.

The doe is able to strategically delay the implantation of the embryo until January, so the young aren’t born in the harsh winter months, but instead in the milder months of May or June, when food is plentiful. The female usually gives birth to twins, who have coats dappled with white spots for the first six weeks to make them more camouflaged from predators.

Everyone say ahh now. When the female is away foraging she will leave the fawns hidden in the undergrowth to await her return. The fawns remain there without moving very far until the mother returns. People often find fawns hiding away alone and are concerned that they have been abandoned. This is usually not the case. The advice would be to leave them well alone, unless obviously injured, as the mother will diligently return to care for them.

Most roe deer behaviour is hidden from view, in deep woodland or occurring at night, but it is still easily possible to see them in the UK. They are becoming more common in urban areas, as they follow human-made corridors, such as motorway verges and railway lines into our parks and green-spaces. I have spotted roe deer on numerous occasions in Glasgow. Many parks have a resident population and I have even spotted them on a piece of waste ground in Ibrox!

So keep your eyes peeled and your ears open when you are out on your walks. Roe deer are most active at dawn and dusk, but are often seen grazing in the day time. You may hear their barking alarm call or spot their white rumps as they bound away to safety. Other signs of roe deer you may spot are, piles of droppings, dainty cloven hoof prints left in soft ground, and bark stripped from trees. Happy nature spotting! 🙂

Clare Toner, Clyde Valley Ranger.

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We caught this interesting and energetic footage on the Falls of Clyde trail camera, at a time when most of us are tucked up, cosy in our beds. As you …

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