Breeding Season For Roe Deer

The breeding season for roe deer takes place in late July and August and is known as the rut.

Roe Deer On The Run

Roe Deer On The Run

Hi Sara

We often see deer on Sunk Island- at least once a week. We were having a rare sit down earlier this week and a roe deer strolled past the window, across the lawn. Ten miutes later a stag followed in her footsteps, very slowly, nibbling the garden shrubs as he went. Someone said it was the mating season, but I am not sure if they are right. Do you know? TopVeg

Hi Topveg, how amazing to see two deer up close like that and so confident to walk through your garden. did you get a photo or video of this?
You are right about the mating season -  Baby deer are called kids or fawns and are born in the following May or June. Roe deer are unique amongst deer in that they have delayed implantation of the fertilised embryo so that the gestation period (7 months) is delayed until the Winter. The doe can have one or two kids which are nursed for 4-5 months. The kids are usually hidden in long grass. Twins are quite common and sometimes they may have triplets although this is uncommon.
Thanks for the interesting question.
kind regards
sara @ farmingfriends

Have you seen roe deer recently?

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Signs Of Deer On The Farm

My husband and neighbours who walk up the lane will often say they have seen deer on or around our farm. Unfortunately I rarely see a deer. In fact in five years of living here, I think I have only had about 5 sightings.

A Deer In Neighbouring Field

A Deer In Neighbouring Field

There are a number of signs to indicate that deer are in the area:

  • Footprints in soft ground. Deer are cloven-hooved like sheep and goats; the size of the print depends on the species and age of the animal. The pointed end of the print is the front of the hoof and indicates the direction the deer was walking.
  • Fresh droppings are also a sign that deer are near. Their dung is made up of brown or black pellets the size of peas.
  • Ragged edges on leaves as the deer graze the leaves.
  • Scarred tree bark where the male deer have rubbed their heads against trees and bushes, leaving the bark frayed and bush damaged.
  • Antlers are shed once a year, so if you are very lucky you may find one or even a pair.

Have you seen any deer near where you live?

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Badgers In Garden

This morning at 2am I was awoken to the sound of caterwauling which I thought was my cats fighting. My beloved Stripe the cat seems to be slightly injured at the moment and doesn’t get on with the dominant male Fluffy (maybe Fluffy is so dominant to counter act his name but let me tell you he does live uo to his name as he is just a ball of fluff!) I thought it might be Stripe and Fluffy fighting so I headed out to the garden in my pyjamas, dressing gown and wellies, what a sight eh?! 

When I went out to investigate I found 2 badgers fighting. I have never seen real badgers before up so close and despite me putting the flash light on them they did not stop fighting. I kept back but kept the torch light on them and then cried out to try to stop the badgers fighting. The badgers did stop and looked at me and then they ran off up the lane. Once up the lane they then headed across the ditch and into our paddock. I dashed back across the garden and orchard and shone the torch into the paddock to see the badgers fighting again. I didn’t want them to frighten my poultry and the poultry huts are close by so I made a noise and then the badgers ran off up the hedgerow.

I didn’t know whether they were males (called boars) and fighting because one boar had come into another boars territory.

Does anyone know about badger behaviour and why they fight?


Sights & Sounds On The Farm

The farm is an amazing place to see & hear nature up close. Here are just some of the sights and sounds I have seen and heard on and around the farm over the last month.

  • Barn owls screeching in the fields at dusk.
  • Bats flying around the barn at night.
  • Swallows circling the barnyard and feeding their young.
  • Blue tits leaving the nest box.
  • Rats scurrying about in the barns and knawing the barn rafters.
  • Magpies circling the fields and hedgerows for eggs.
  • Wagtails wagging their tails as they hop about the farmyard.
  • Pigeons cooing.
  • Cows grazing.
  • Wheat and barley crops growing.
  • Poppies flowering.
  • Cuckoos calling at dusk.
  • Oilseed rape in full bloom.
  • Peacock butterfly flying around the garden.
  • Tawny owl calling out at night.
  • Small White butterfly flying around the vegetable patch.
  • Bees collecting pollen from the flowers.
  • Cinnabar moth flying around the garden and fields.
  • Potato plants emerging.
  • Cowslip growing in abundance along the hedgerows.
  • Elderflowers blossoming.
  • Vegetable seedlings growing.


The Mole

Latin Name: Talpa europaea

Description: The mole has a velvety dark grey to black coat of fur which is made of tiny sensory hairs. The front feet are directed sideways in a spade like shape with long claws. It has a narrow pointed snout and tiny eyes. The mole does not have external ears. It has a tail of about 4cm and a body size of about 11-16cm from head to rump. A mole can weigh between 60-125g, with the male weighing more than the female.

Habitat: Lives underground most of the time in loose soil. It inhabits woodland, grassland, meadows, fields, orchards and gardens. The mole generally does not inhabitat regularly cultivated land and sandy, stony or waterlogged soil which does not have alot of earthworms in it.

Food: The mole eats mainly earthworms, especially during the Winter, but it also eats slugs, millipedes and insect larvae in the soil. Feeding mainly on earthworms, the mole does not need to drink frequently as the earthworm is 85% water. In Autumn, the mole stores hundreds of earthworms so that it has a supply of food through the Winter. When it stores the earthworm, it chews the front end so that they remain alive but can not crawl away. A mole needs to eat frequently and in a day can eat the equivalent of it’s own body weight.

Breeding: The mole has a short mating season which is between March and May. The male visits the female in her underground den and then the male leaves, taking no part in raising the young. The gestation period is about 30 days and the female mole can have 1 or 2 litters a year. A litter can be between 2 and 7 baby moles which are born naked and with their eyes closed, in a nest dug by the female. The young will develop fur within 2 weeks and open their eyes after about 3 weeks. Baby moles are suckled for approximately 4-5 weeks and become independent within 2 months, when they then leave the nest to find their own territory.

Distribution: The mole can be found in most of Europe, except Ireland, Iceland, Scandinavia and the far South. This creature is widespread in Britain and can also be found in central and Northern Asia.

Did You Know?

  • Moles spend most of their lives tunnelling underground (they are subterranean) , although they will occasionally appear above ground.
  • A single mole can inhabit a network of tunnels stretching over 30-50 m.
  • Moles are active both day and night.
  • They dig their tunnels using their spade like front feet, creating a network of tunnels which may be as much as 1m below ground.
  • At intervals, they push up soil which humans classify as molehills.
  • The silky coat on the mole helps it to move through the tunnels easily.
  • The mouth and nostrils on a mole face downwards so that they do not get filled with soil.
  • The mole is seen as a pest by the farmer and gardener because the molehills push up the soil and destroy the crops, plants or grass in the moles path.
  • Young moles can sometimes be seen above ground in the Summer as they look for new territories.
  • Moles are territorial and if a rival male enters another males territory then the moles will fight, sometimes until one of the moles is killed.
  • The mole is a solitary creature except at breeding time.
  • The mole does not have good eye sight nor a good sense of smell, instead the mole’s body is very sensitive to touch and can detect vibrations in the soil which helps it to locate food more easily.

Unfortunately for nature lovers, the mole spends most of it’s life underground and is seldom seen. Although I have not been lucky enough to see a mole on my farm (yet!), I know they inhabit the surrounding fields because their molehills are in evidence, much to my husband’s annoyance!

If you are finding molehills a problem then click on this link for expert advice on mole control.


Common Toad

Toad Found

Latin Name: Bufo bufo

Description: The common toad is an amphibian. They are normally grey-brown in colour although they do camouflage themselves with their background so their skin colouring can vary according to the type of soil in their habitat. Their skin is not a moist and smooth texture but dry and warty. They have short legs which they use for crawling around rather than hopping. The male toad is usually slightly shorter than the female toad. The common toad generally grows to about 8-15cm long. The eyes on the toad are orange with black horizontal pupils.

Habitat: The common toad lives on land in the damp and dark areas of fields, hedgerows, parks, gardens, orchards and woodlands. During the breeding season they can be found in ponds, lakes, ditches and some rivers. 

Food: The common toad eats slugs, worms, snails and other insects. They seize their food with their long sticky tongue.

Breeding: In the Spring, the common toad returns to the breeding pond and will often walk long distances to get to the pond, making themselves more visible at this time of year. The toad returns to the water to spawn with another toad of the opposite gender. The spawn is laid by the females in a long strand of single eggs numbering 600-4000 which grow into tadpoles after about 10 days. The tadpoles are a dark colour which then grow into toads within 2-3 months.

Distribution: The common toad can be found throughout the UK, but not Ireland. It can also be found throughout most of Europe.

Did You Know?

  • The common toad hibernates in the Winter (October-March) on land.
  • They are nocturnal and shelter under vegetation during the day and feed at night.
  • The common toad has a poison gland, so that when another animal tries to eat the toad, the poison will burn their mouths.
  • The toad is a solitary creature, except during the breeding season.
  • Only the male common toad croaks.

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The Swan

A Swan On The Canal

  • Swans are large water birds that can swim and fly.
  • The male swan is called the cob.
  • The female swan is called the pen.
  • Young swans are called cygnets.
  • Mute swans (Cygnus olor) are found in Great Britain.
  • The mute swan is a very large bird which has white plumage, grey-black legs and an orange-red bill with black on it.
  • This swan can be found in lowland areas of the UK, on freshwater such as lakes, ponds and rivers, both in the countryside and in towns.
  • Swans feed by dipping their heads under water to find food.
  • Swans breed from March – May.

A Swan Sitting On Her Nest

  • Huge nests are built along the water’s edge, from vegetation.
  • The female lays a clutch of 3-8 eggs.
  • Incubation of the swan’s eggs takes 35 days.
  • When the cygnets hatch out, they are grey and then they grow brown feathers which turn white within the first 12 months.
  • During the breeding period the male swan becomes territorial and can be aggressive.

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Roe Deer

A Close Up Of The Deer

Latin Name: Capreolus capreolus

A Close Up Of The Deer

Description: The roe deer is a short and stocky deer with a body length of 95-135cm. The adult roe deer has a coat that in Summer is a red-brown colour and in Winter is a grey-fawn colour. Their coat moults in April or May. Roe deer have a black nose with white marks around it and two large eyes. Their ears are also large and are a grey white colour inside. The rump of the roe deer is white and the tail is very short and barely visible.

The Male Roe Deer

  • The male roe deer is called a buck.
  • Only the buck has antlers and these are lost in Winter and re-grow by late Spring.
  • The male can grow to a height of 75cm at the shoulders.
  • The buck can weigh up to 30kg.

The Female Roe Deer

  • The female roe deer is called the doe.
  • The doe is smaller in size than the male.
  • The female can grow to a height of 60cm at the shoulders.
  • The doe can weigh up to 16kg.

Habitat: Roe deer mainly live in woodlands and forests, but increased numbers have meant that some now live on more open farmland and scrubland.

Food: The roe deer are herbivores. They graze on a variety of ground vegetation such as grass and herbs. They also eat shoots, leaves and berries especially from holly and beech trees.

Breeding: Breeding takes place in late July and August and is known as the rut. Baby deer are called kids or fawns and are born in the following May or June. Roe deer are unique amongst deer in that they have delayed implantation of the fertilised embryo so that the gestation period (7 months) is delayed until the Winter. The doe can have one or two kids which are nursed for 4-5 months. The kids are usually hidden in long grass. Twins are quite common and sometimes they may have triplets although this is uncommon.

Distribution: Roe Deer are found in Britain, particularly Northern and Western areas of the UK. However they are not generally found in Ireland. They are found in abundance in Europe, particularly Western Europe and they also live in Asia and China. Roe deer can be seen all year round in Britain.

Deer On The Run  A Deer On The Run  Deer On The Run

Did You Know?

  • Roe deer are shy creatures.
  • They are most active at dawn and dusk.
  • These hooved animals are very good jumpers.
  • Roe kids are spotted at birth but they lose their spots within two months.
  • Only the male roe deer grows antlers which are lost in Winter and then re-grow.
  • Roe deer will bark when they are frightened or when the males are attracting a mate.
  • They live in marked territories which they mark with the scent gland on their head and rump or by urinating.
  • The white rump on the deer seems to expand when the deer get excited or frightened.
  • Roe deer usually live singly or in small groups of less than ten, although in Winter they can form much larger groups.
  • They have a life span of 10 – 18 years.
  • The roe deer became extinct in England during the 18th century, but survived in the Highlands.
  • This deer has been reintroduced into many parts of England.

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