Updated 15 November
The beautiful and elegant roe deer, I am delighted whenever I see these small, secretive deer browsing on Portbury Wharf salt marsh.
Just seen this November buck, not yet shed his antlers but sporting his grey brown winter coat and white throat patch (known as a gorget patch). The day was dull and overcast so the marsh was a muted umber.
This slightly scruffy May buck was still shedding the winter velvet from this year’s antlers.
. . . and here in the company of his doe they stopped to check me out. Vibrantly green May marsh with a wonderful streak of yellow sunlight in front of the Severn Bridge.
A high tide at Portishead Pier in October and the dark brown winter coat of this roe deer blended so well with the rich burnt umber and alizarin crimson tones of the salt marsh, it made her all but invisible. But as soon as she took flight her striking “powder puff” rump bobbed rhythmically above the herbage – a dead give away!
As she drew level with the old Masonic Hall on the far side of the Pier she passed this vivid patch of bright green grass, such a wonderfully vibrant colour on an overcast day.
Sketches from a sunny September day, one of the Masonic Hall by the pier in front of Eastwood and the other of a roe on the marsh by the pier – I haven’t used these oil pastels in years and certainly never in combination with water colours but had great fun here . . .
. . . and in the magical, rose-coloured light of an early morning in October a wisp of 23 snipe flew up above this roe browsing on the salt marsh herbs.
. . . and in a more wintry scene amongst the marsh grasses.
In the depths of winter on a frosty January morning a female roe (a doe) heads up the grassy sea wall by the nature reserve’s tower hide.
In winter, after the roe bucks have shed their antlers and before their new ones have started to grow, it can be difficult to sex the deer but the doe has a prominent tail-like anal tush, a downward pointing tuft of hair in the middle of her powder puff rump.
In contrast to the grey / brown winter coat the summer roe boasts a much more conspicuous burnt sienna wardrobe – like this roe doe down by the dock wall.
They tend to be easier to spot when contrasted against the greener summer salt marsh but they are really quite small and can easily remain hidden in the long grass.
On a lovely sunny June morning I came across this buck right at the top of the marsh opposite the sewer outlet sign at Portishead Pier. . .
. . . he was so engrossed in feeding that even if he had spotted me he was not about to be distracted from “breakfasting” his way down the marsh.
Suddenly the peace and quiet of the marsh morning was shattered by the sound of raucous, throbbing diesel engines emanating from the docks . . . three tugs had simultaneously started their engines.
All three tugs shot out of the lock gates at a rate knots and even this dockland buck who was well used to the comings and goings of the tugs was startled by the scale of racket and commotion.
On a bright and sunny August morning of sharp shadows I was making my way back along the track when I saw a roe buck in the middle of the marsh. I wanted to get past without disturbing him so I crept low in the grass and when close knelt down to watch him.
However, unexpectedly he started walking straight towards me and came within feet before catching my scent. He peered through the grasses to see what manner of creature I was then turned and ran up the bank back into the nature reserve.
The British Deer Society is a good place to find out more about these deer.