On the way back from Portland our group of Glamorgan Bird Clubbers detoured to RSPB Arne to follow up on the reported sighting of a Stilt sandpiper.
It was down there somewhere, amidst the large numbers of waders – it was a real treat to see so many Avocets together – but I can’t definitively say I saw it.
However, we did have fabulous views of the surrounding countryside and the distant Corfe Castle – another place added to my list of ‘must visits’ – and, to my delight, we also had wonderful views of a Sika deer mother and fawn, the first time I’ve seen these deer.
The Sika (Cervus nippon) is about the size of a Fallow deer – this hind would’ve been between 50 and 90cm at the shoulder, her fawn, obviously, smaller – but the Sika’s coat is generally darker. They do have whitish spots in the summer but these can be very faint, almost invisible in the winter months. Fawns are usually born in May – June so this little one must’ve been 4 to 5 months old.
The countryside at Arne is perfect for Sika as they prefer coniferous woodlands and acidic heathland, where they nibble away at grasses and heather. Although these Sika are not a native British species – three different Asian species have been kept on estates and parklands, escapees from the Japanese species (hence C. nippon) can be found through much of Britain where the habitat is right, particularly in parts of Scotland.