Tag Archives: deer

Stags in Glendalough

If you want to see a really exciting wildlife spectacle then now is the time to visit Glendalough. Remember, even if you are in a wheelchair or on a mobolity scooter it is perfectly possible to witness this spectacular event. There is a charge of €4 to park a car in the security-protected car park, but there are toilets, etc. and it’s worth the peace of mind knowing your vehicle is safe.  Stags can be seen on the slopes towards the back of the valley, behind the Upper Lake, and they are fighting each other for the right to mate with the females. Bring binoculars, viewing scope or camera with a long zoom to get the best of it, but the naked eye can see a lot.  Check out this little video I made to give you a better understanding of what you will see:

Because the deer in Glendalough are hybrids some of the stags looks like Sika stags and some look like Red Deer stags and their sizes vary. For example, here is one that appears to be a classic Sika stag:

Sika stags have much shorter antlers than Red Deer, and are much smaller animals.
Sika stags have much shorter antlers than Red Deer, and are much smaller animals.

And here is much larger one that seems to be a classic example of a Red Deer stag:

To all intents and purposes a classic Red Deer stag, with huge antlers.
To all intents and purposes a classic Red Deer stag, with large antlers, although this one has certain Sika traits.

And here is the upper part of the valley behind the lake:

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The deer are mostly visible on that opposite wall of the valley, and they are often hiding in plain site, so make sure to look and listen. It’s a big valley.

 

 

The Secret World of the Wicklow Winter

We are now in the depths of winter, which is kind of ironic as the cold weather has not properly arrived yet. However, every day now brings us closer to the summer, and everyday is slightly longer than the last. The fascinating thing about winter is that there is a lot of wildlife out there, but we just don’t see it because the nights are so long (sunrise is almost at 8.30 am and darkness falls before 5 pm). A couple of days ago I was amazed to find footprints on the sand of the sea shore. I’m pretty sure they were the prints of a hind (female) Sika Deer, although they are somewhat like those of goats. However, I know there is a herd of deer living quite near the shore, but have not seen any goats. Sika, Red Deer and goat prints can be quite alike.

Hoof prints of what is almost certainly a female Sika Deer, although possibly a goat.
Hoof prints of what is almost certainly a female Sika Deer, although possibly a goat, on very soft sand on a beach. My foot provides a sense of scale.

There is interesting wildlife to be found absolutely everywhere on earth, but it often goes unnoticed, including larger animals like deer. Not that this track is quite shallow. Also note that my foot is on the right side print and you are looking at a left one.

 

 

If you find a baby deer… leave it!

I know a lot of people would like me to do more about footprints for the long weekend, especially so they can go out tracking, so I will do that in the next upload, but firstly something very important.

At this time of the year deer are birthing all around Ireland. It is very likely you might come across a newborn baby deer lying in long grass and not moving. DO NOT TOUCH IT! When deer are born they are not able to run for the first few hours, so they can’t keep up with their mothers. And, if a mother deer waits by her baby she is very likely to draw the attention of predators. So, instead the mother will leave the baby where it is and come back to suckle it at specific intervals when it is safe to do so.

This is a photo of a Fallow Deer fawn lying low. It's not abandoned, it's simply hiding. When it's muscles develop after a few days it will be well able to run. I took this photo a few years ago when I spent a June working with the Irish Mammal Study Group based in UCD.
This is a photo of a Fallow Deer fawn lying low. It’s not abandoned, it’s simply hiding. When its muscles develop after a few days it will be well able to run. I took this photo a few years ago when I spent a June working with the Irish Mammal Study Group based in UCD.

After only a day or so the baby has the strength to follow its mother, but until it is strong enough to run it will always drop down in the grass and wait quietly, relying on its camouflage to keep it safe. If you find a baby deer like this don’t touch it under and circumstances because your scent will rub off onto the baby and its mother won’t take it back. If you think the baby deer will make a good pet, then you are making a big mistake. Almost all youngsters under a week old will die if taken into captivity. They can only digest their mothers’ milk and the stress alone can take its toll. Even expert deer handlers cannot save their lives. Less is more in this case. If you back off away from the youngster, and pretend you haven’t seen it, the mother will soon return, and you will be able to watch her doing so.

If it’s too late, and you have handled it, leave it where you found it and there is still a chance the mother will take it back. Remember, you probably won’t know the outcome, because of the secrecy of these animals.