Young Buck Sika Deer  at Arne, Dorset, UK.

This charming young buck Sika deer was feeding by the path. I was walking through the woodland at Arne to reach the water’s edge at Shipstal Point on the South side of Poole Harbour in Dorset. There are lots of deer on this RSPB nature reserve. This one had already broken one of its antlers. Whether that was in a challenge to another deer or accidentally when trying to remove the ‘velvet’ is difficult to say. There were trees all around with deep jagged grooves where the male deer had been scraping off the velvet fleshy covering on the new season’s growth of antler. We could hear the occasional clashing of antlers as young bucks skirmished out of sight.

Most of the deer, bucks, does and young were in small clusters camouflaged amongst the trees, or gathered in large herds in open fields. Others grazed in the open on the lush salt marsh vegetation on the edge of this vast natural harbour. The waters here are popular with birds both native, alien and migrant. There were Little Egret along with Oyster Catchers, Cormorants or Shags, and Canada Geese.

The tide was right up to the top of the shore when I reached the water – so I couldn’t do any of my customary beachcombing. Nonetheless, the walk was well worth it to see all the deer at such close quarters and to spot such a variety of resting sea birds.

Tree with scratch marks made by Sika Deer when they try to remove the 'velvet' from their antlers. Arne, Dorset, UK.

Tree with scratch marks made by Sika Deer when they try to remove the 'velvet' from their antlers. Arne, Dorset, UK.

Sika Deer on salt marsh at Arne, Dorset, UK

Resting sea birds on the edge of Poole Harbour at Arne, Dorset, UK.

Resting sea birds on the edge of Poole Harbour near Arne, Dorset, UK.  

COPYRIGHT JESSICA WINDER 2013

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