Roe Deer Reappear In Friars Cliff

 In Environment

Roe deer reappear in Friars Cliff is hardly world shattering news. This headline reminds me of my life in the sticks in Shropshire. The newspaper hoardings would highlight significant events such as, ‘Scout Hut repainted’ or ‘Winner of bonny baby competition’. The reappearance of roe deer is both good news and bad. The bonny baby lovers will ooh and ah at Bambi whilst the gardeners will get the rifle oiled up. The sighting can be confirmed. Ann and I, the shielded ones, who sneak out for a coastal run at 6.30 am, spotted it. Just five houses down the road, we flushed a roe deer out of a front garden. It looked fit and well, and bounded away down a footpath.

Lying up

As soon as I see deer I try to imagine where they live. This is called the lying up, the place where they retreat to during the day. Dogs quickly sniff them out so it needs to be away from dog walkers. In Friars Cliff there is a lack of wild places. The nearest is probably the perimeter of Highcliffe Golf Course. That is heavily wooded, a habitat ideal for this species. An ungated public footpath leaves the course and extends down into Friars Cliff. The deer might have taken advantage of Covid-19, with few humans around during the lockdown. Now for the negative bit. I had these deer in my garden in South Croydon. They love roses, not the scent but the shoots. A bush of rosebuds, all fired up to bloom, disappear overnight. If there are no roses, the tops of beetroot suffer a similar fate, or geraniums.

Deer economy

The roe deer is one of two native deer to Britain. The other is the red deer. The roe dates back to at least the Mesolithic Period 6000 – 10000 BC. My pagan ancestor Zuri knew and appreciated them. The venison might have been delicious but it was the skins that mattered. A roe deer cape was a gorgeous item of clothing and must have had a high trade value. Such capes must have been the most prominent item of clothing seen at ceremonies at Stonehenge. So, if ‘Roe deer reappear in Friars Cliff’ seems a little banal, then consider how it links us to our Neolithic past. The roe deer was food, clothing and a myriad of bone tools, all essential to life. In their economy, roe skins were as significant to them as oil is to us.

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