Tag Archives: Calving

The Red deer Year : August

Pesky Flies and Bloodstained Velvet

During early August most mature red deer stags will have completed regrowth of their antlers. The protective highly vascular velvety skin that supplied oxygen and nutrients to the growing bone over the past months now starts to dry out and decay, attracting numerous flies. Stags may become more difficult to spot at this time as they lie up in high cover, such as reed beds, bracken and cereal fields for much of the day, to get away from pesky flies. More unusually some stags may seek out shade in a secluded garden, as shown in the clip below of a stag that came right up close to my garden trail camera last year, and shows swarms of flies surrounding his antlers during mid-August.


By the end of August mature stags will ‘clean’ their antlers of the remaining velvet skin that is now ‘in tatters’, to reveal their shiny new antler tips, ready to do battle in the autumn rut.

“My legs are getting so long now I have to kneel down to suckle”.


 

See below for previous Month:

The Red deer Year: July

Velvet Stags and Spotted Calves.

In July red deer stags are at their most tolerant of each other. Many join all-male bachelor groups, commonly 5 to 15 strong, though occasionally as in the clip below much larger aggregations may be seen even in the wild.  Meanwhile, young red deer calves born during May and early June, which had been hiding away in dense cover most of the day for the first few weeks of their lives, become easier to see out in the open in July. They now start to join female herds for at least part of the day, and may form ‘nursery groups’ of several calves together,  looked out for by one or two mature hinds. This often leads people to think they are seeing twin calves, though twins are actually quite rare among red deer. Hinds with young calves nearby are especially vigilant and will bark loudly at any sign of perceived danger, …. such as an amateur cameraman hiding in the bushes!

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Bambi: “Look how I’ve grown”

In early June this year during a walk on the edge of Exmoor I was thrilled to stumble across a newly born deer calf lying up concealed among nettles and brambles. Most deer calves hide up quietly on their own for much of the day during the first few weeks of life, and the mother returns only briefly a few times each day to suckle them.

One week old red deer calf hiding.

One week old red deer calf hiding.

Newly born calves even of our largest UK species – red deer – measure barely fifty centimetres tip to tail, and their reddish brown coat flecked with small white spots provides perfect camouflage among the woodland vegetation.

Photographing young calves in the wild without disturbing them becomes easier in late summer when they start to follow their mothers and join the rest of the herd.  Having had little chance to observe calves again until now – the first week in September – it is quite staggering to see how much they have grown even though most are still barely 12 weeks old.

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“Barely three months old, but I’m already able to look over mum’s shoulder”.

“My legs are getting so long now I have to kneel down to suckle”.

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“With my legs growing faster than my neck, grazing too is easier kneeling down”.

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“The other calves say I have a face just like my mum!”

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“Time for a rest …..

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… before joining the herd to eat my greens”.

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See below for a video clip from earlier this summer when calves were just 3 – 4 weeks old :

Meanwhile the stags have been chilling while regrowing their antlers :

Meanwhile the stags have been chilling and regrowing their antlers