Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

Young buck surprise!

Roe deer-mating behaviour_1

I’m back! My summer sojourn with landscape photography is at an end and I’ve returned to my wildlife photography. I do hope that I didn’t bore you with my images of the Wolds? I’m pretty sure I will return to the sea & the land later in the year.

The sun had already set and my camera’s meter was telling me it was time to go home when I spotted two Roe deer amongst the tall grass.There was a young buck and a much older doe and they appeared to be engrossed in their mating behaviour. I watched them patiently for about fifteen minutes as the buck showed a considerable amount of interest and finally ended up mating with the mature doe.

I wasn’t too sure of the quality of the pictures but was pleasantly surprised to see that most of them were sharp despite the high ISO and the very low shutter speeds employed (good old Nikon D3s). I was quite puzzled by the behaviour exhibited by this pair of roe deer so I made a quick copy of the files and sent them to my good friend Marc Baldwin at Wildlife Online. Marc was kind enough to send me the following note”

The photos clearly show a sexual liaison between a young buck and a mature doe. The mutual grooming and doe squatting on the ground to urinate (thereby releasing a flood of various hormones that tell the buck how close to being in estrus she is) are well-known peri-courtship behaviours in this species. Interestingly, there was no obvious frenetic chasing of the doe by the buck, which is often a precursor to copulation (and possibly stimulate ovulation). The fact that the buck appears quite young (probably in his second year) might suggest that the female hasn’t been mated earlier in the season by a mature male (from previous pics you’ve posted, there are a few around) and I know that, in Red deer (not sure about Roe), the females can become quite impatient — well, frankly slutty! — the longer they go without being mated and by the end of the season the female can often solicit any available males shamelessly to provoke a mating. It wouldn’t surprise me if this also happened in Roe.

Roe deer-mating behaviour_2

Roe deer-mating behaviour_3

Roe deer-mating behaviour_4

Roe deer-scent marking

Roe deer-mating

Even though the light was poor, I find this set of images represents to me, the true essence of wildlife photography—a rarely seen event that I can share with others. It’s always worth staying that little bit later, even if it’s too dark to photograph. You never know what you’ll see.

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