Roe deer

Roe deer

Latin name: Capreolus capreolus

Height: 60 -75cm (buck) at shoulder

Weight: 10 – 25kg

Where: Balmaha woods; Balloch Castle Country Park; East Loch Lomond Woods; Aberfoyle; Port of Menteith

When: All year round, but often easier to see in winter, and at dawn and dusk

If you take a stroll through the woods and catch sight of a small deer with a white rump it’s likely to be a roe deer. They are the smallest of our native deer – half the size of their cousins the red deer. And unlike the reds they tend to prefer their own company rather than hanging round in herds.

If you get a good look you may pick out its kohl-black nose, and a chin that looks like it has been dipped in milk. Their muzzles are short, pointed and rather dog-like – an impression strengthened if you hear them bark in alarm.

In winter they exchange their glowing, russet-brown summer coat for a heavier grey number – some even favour a sooty black version – though they never lose that white rump. Only the males (known as bucks rather than stags) have antlers. They grow a fresh pair every winter in readiness for the summer rut, when the antlers play a key part in the males’ courtship. Once the new antlers stop growing the bucks rub them hard against tree branches to remove the itchy velvet that covers them as they grow. The mangled branches are often a good clue that the deer are not far away.

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Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods