Despite the weather being dry over the weekend, it was a little disappointing in as much as it was very cloudy, and there was a very cool wind. True to form with the first day of the working week the sky was clear, and the wind had dropped. By the time the evning arrived it was it was very pleasant and my thoughts returned to the Roe Deer and her kid. I set off for yet another try in Old Down, I had received another report of the them being seen from Jill, and with that some idea of exactly where.
As I walked along Brislands the air once again was filled with bird song. It sounds like early May as opposed to early June, another sign of the lateness of spring, one which has been confirmed as the coldest for fifty years. As I passed under the large oaks on Brislands I could hear Long-tailed Tits calling from within the canopy. I stopped and quickly found a pair of adults, I wondered if they were feeding recently fledged youngsters, so I waited and watched and I was soon able to find them. The tails are yet to reach full size and you see the difference from the adults. The marking around the head are also not yet complete. In this photo there are three birds, so are immediately visible, but you have to search for the third.
The adults were busy flying around the hedges leaving the youngsters in the safety of the oak branches.
There are several oak trees close together here, and as the adults moved further away the youngsters responded to the contact calls, and moved from tree to tree, allowing me the chance to get closer photographs
You can see the smaller tail and prominent fork in these pictures
I left them all calling away noisily in the tree top, and turned down Gradwell to enter Old Down from the footpath. As I walked alongside the field swallows came from the horse paddock and out across the field. I counted about eight which was a good number as there usally only a pair that nest around the stables.
As I walked into Old Down I was greeted with more bird song, Blackcaps, Blackbirds, Song Thrush and Robin were singing constantly, and every so often they would be joined by a Wren. I walked around the south perimeter, and stopped at the stile to see if I could any sign of the Firecrest that was there last week. All I could hear was the alarm call of a Robin, that at first I thought might have been the Firecrest. There was no sign, so maybe it had been just a one day wonder, or it had been there a while and moved away at the weekend, either way I was pleased that it had stayed long enough for me to have found it.
I walked along the path towards the main track, and disturbed what looked like a yearling Roe Deer amongst the bluebells, it moved away through the undergrowth. I turned off the path and headed west towards to the wide main path, and almost suddenly felt I was being watched. I stopped and found I was staring at a doe Roe Deer.
She watched me closely as I walked along the path to try and get a better view for a photograph. I approached carefully, and she never took her eyes off me. Finally I must have been too close because she turned away, but never sped off, just walked away always looking back at me. As I watched her I noticed movement in the bracken and bramble and a head appeared and dropped again out of view. I looked closely, and this is what I found.
You can just make out the white spots and stripes on the back of the kid, that was settling down as quietly as it could in the vegetation. Every so often it would twitch, and I could see where it was. Zooming in I was able to get a better view. If you look closely you can see the rear haunches, and I as a result I think the head is pointing towards me.
I had the feeling that someone was watching me again, and I turned to see the doe on the path looking at me, so I started to edge away.
I walked off and left her to return to the kid. Incidently I always thought a fawn was the name for a baby deer, but it seems when they are first born they are known as kids, then as they grow they become fawns. Roe Deer can have up to three young in one go, and they also have the ability to delay implantation of the fertilised egg, typically the rut takes place in mid July to August, and after that the egg does not implant and start to develop until December.
I walked to the field by Old Down Cottage and waited to see if anything appeared in the field. It is hard to believe that the kid can jump what is quite a high fence, so the thought is that the kid being seen in the field was probably born there and lies down in the long grass, with the mother leaving it to go into the wood. Once the kid is old enough it is then able to jump the fence. This would mean that the youngster that I had just found was another and not the same.
As I stood waiting I couldn't help but be impressed with the buttercups in the adjoining field and the scene they produced against the distant trees.
A call from the pines behind me alerted me to another late arrival. It was a Spotted Flycatcher, I was able to pick it out, but unfortunately unable to photograph it. They are becoming more abundant than I thought.
I wandered around the path through the wood, looking to see if I could see anything in the long greass, but could not find any signs. I decided to walk back to where I had seen the other couple. As I came down the path, the doe was there watching me from behind a tree trunk.
I checked the area I had left the kid in, but it was not there, it was probaly close to mum now, and her watchful gaze.
I left her, and walked back around the southern path, and out onto Gradwell lane. It had been a worth while walk , and at last nice to feel warm.