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Wilmslow Express - - NEWS -

ITH wildlife on the move as spring kicks in, walk­ing in the coun­try­side is prov­ing to be re­ally re­ward­ing at the mo­ment.

And round our way we are hav­ing a ‘deer fest’.

Ev­ery morn­ing for the past week or so I have seen small groups of roe deer in the woods where I walk the dog.

Most morn­ings I see three large deer chomp­ing away on the plants. They are spooked when I first ar­rive but only move 50 yards be­fore con­tin­u­ing to feed.

Yes­ter­day I was walk­ing along the river bank and two younger an­i­mals leapt out onto the path, bounded across the river and dis­ap­peared into the wood on the other side.

As I walked past I could see them watch­ing me from a dis­tance, know­ing full well that I couldn’t catch them.

The thing about deer is that they are nosey. They will run off if you get too close – but they are al­ways keen to watch you.

Roe deer are our most com­mon na­tive deer, though you will only usu­ally see them around dawn or dusk. At the mo­ment they are vis­i­ble be­cause they are com­ing down from the hills look­ing for early spring growth to feed on.

Also, it is eas­ier to spot them when the greens of spring have not yet grown to of­fer cover and cam­ou­flage.

While early morn­ings are great times to spot roe deer, they do man­age to van­ish when the ma­jor­ity of walk­ers, run­ners and cy­clists take to the wood­land paths.

I still find it amaz­ing, be­cause they are quite large an­i­mals, that they can re­main out of sight to most peo­ple for large parts of their lives.

Also, as win­ter turns to spring, they do stick to cold weather groups be­fore be­com­ing more soli­tary in the sum­mer.

Un­less you get close, it is quite dif­fi­cult to tell males from fe­males.

Males have rel­a­tively short antlers, typ­i­cally with six points.

They begin to grow their antlers in Novem­ber, shed­ding the vel­vet from them in the spring. By sum­mer, they are ready for the rut­ting sea­son.

Af­ter mat­ing, they shed their antlers in Oc­to­ber and begin to grow a new set.

Roe deer are medi­um­sized, a bit big­ger than a large dog. They have short antlers and no tail. In­stead they have a pale rump which you of­ten see bob­bing off into the dis­tance.

It dark­ens in the win­ter, to help dis­guise them in bare wood­land.

Roe deer are mostly brown, but turn red­dish in sum­mer and then a darker grey in win­ter.

They feed on leaves, berries, grass and young shoots – the lat­ter diet caus­ing prob­lems in some wood­lands.

Deer have no nat­u­ral preda­tors in the UK so their num­bers are con­trolled by land own­ers, where they are caus­ing prob­lems.

Lan­cashire Wildlife Trust builds deer-proof fenc­ing on its re­serves to pro­tect young trees from rav­en­ous roe deer.

To sup­port the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side text WILD09 with the amount you want to do­nate to 70070.

For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlife trust.org.uk.

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