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A roe deer birth and a roe deer death


As you know, almost all my time this year has been spent in two woods on the moor near my village, looking for one very small animal: a pine marten ! I've been quite lucky with the filming, but while I've doing that I've been able to have a close look at the other wildlife that lives around there, like the birds, rabbits and roe deer.

Last weekend I was was away camping with the Scouts, but my dad took my two younger brothers up to move my trail camera which had been left for a week watching an owl perch at the very north end of the wood. He wasn't sure where to reposition the camera, so he walked with my brothers down the the south end of the wood. He couldn't think of anywhere to attach the camera, so he just went up to a random tree, but as he did, he noticed something beside a fallen tree branch that he thought was maybe a dead buzzard or owl.

But as he looked closer, he saw the ears, then realised it was a young roe deer fawn, maybe ten days old !

The roe deer birth

Roe deer and red deer all give birth around the same time of year, usually between the middle of May and the start of July, which makes it easier to work out ages.  Fawns (roe deer babies) and calves (red deer babies) are born with white spotted coats, and the white spots fade away after the first month or so. After they are born, they suckle (drink milk from) their mothers to eat.

In the first few weeks they are too weak and small to run with their mothers, so the mum hides them in long grass or undergrowth, like here, to keep them safe from predators like large birds of prey and foxes.. The mum then comes back to feed them a couple of times a day.

If you find a fawn or calf like this, it is VERY IMPORTANT not to touch them or scare them. If the mother cannot find them, or smells human scent on them, they may starve to death.

I had been expecting to see fawns for a while, because my trail camera, set up to film the pine marten, had filmed a pregnant doe for a while. This was it on the 26th April (about three weeks before the birth, I think).

This was about five days later. I think this is the same doe, though it's impossible to be absolutely sure:

And a week after that I filmed this very pregnant doe.

When dad spotted the fawn, he quickly setup a trail camera on the spot, but it didn't get triggered that night at all, and the fawn must have crept away. But at 5.40am the next morning, the camera recorded this ! (the fawn was lying near the branches at the back of the camera shot)

The roe deer death

After retrieving the camera card from that trail camera, though, there was a sad find:

Very gross image. Click and hold down to see the full picture or click here to see in a new window.

The picture is of a dead roe deer buck killed by the side of the road, about 100 yards away from the pine marten wood. It looked like it had been dead around seven or ten days, which means it must have died about exactly the same time that the fawn had been born. The image is not very pleasant because birds have removed its eyes, and foxes have eaten its innards by biting through into the chest cavity from below the rib cage.

There was a broken part of the car that hit it nearby:

It had a good set of antlers:

Very gross image. Click and hold down to see the full picture or click here to see in a new window.

And a few days later, someone had sawn the antlers off the head:

There were five roe bucks I had filmed in this wood. Two had perfect, three-point antlers and looked like mature males, two had slightly malformed antlers, and were probably younger, and one was one of last years babies, and had no antlers yet (you can tell the difference because of the lack of a white tail tuft, and no penis). The roe buck which died was one of the mature males, and I think it was this one which I filmed having a rest in the pine marten wood in May.

I've not seen or filmed the fawn since then, and hope it survives into adulthood. It was very sad about the roe buck, though, which may well have been its father.

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Psydrache said...

Aww, that cute baby deer <3
It's a shame that the driver left the body where it was. Here or in Germany it's a must to inform the police and/or the local hunters when you run an animal over.

Matt Williams said...

awww cute little fawn. shame about the buck though. I had a buck killed outside my house a few weeks ago too. im surprised you didn't take the buck so that you can have its skeleton.

Jake said...

I don't think you have to do that here. At this time of year you see a lot of roe deer killed by the side of the road.

Jake said...

It was about ten days dead when I first saw it, which was probably too late to move easily then.

Owen said...

It's a sad sight this dead roe deer. I really hope that the fawn will survive. Poor baby :( A really nice video about the roe buck that settled for a rest. Keep up the good work.
Ps: I'm a 14 year old bone collecter from Holland. You have a really nice collection Jake.

Jake said...

Thanks !

Anonymous said...

So this haggis skull is made of crocodile jaw, monkey eyes, the backhead of a fox and horns of a roe deer?

sedruff said...

Nice find! Also, I'm going to sound really ditsy, but I didn't know haggis was an actual animal... Yay for Jake teaching me something!

sedruff said...

"...which means they mostly move about at twilight and that they like french pancakes." Yes!! ;)

Jake said...


Free counters!