13 Jul 2018

13 Jul 18 - The Next Generation

One of the other great things about Middlebere is the resident mammals are aware that they are relatively safe around the hides & farm and consequently, they are happy to pose for photos.
Sika Deer: This youngster followed mum up to the barbed wire fence, which mum easily jumped, but was too high for the nipper
Sika Deer were introduced from Japan to Brownsea at the end of the 19th Century. They are well suited to Poole Harbour as they are competent swimmers & crossing from Brownsea to the mainland wasn't a problem. They quickly spread out into Poole Harbour & the surrounding forests. They are quite at home in the Purbeck grasslands, woodlands, marshes & heathland. Over the last two decades of living in Dorset, I've seen them continue to spread out from Poole Harbour. A few years ago, I heard a radio program focusing on Sika Deer in the Purbeck area. That said the population was around 4000. To keep the population at this number, about a 1000 a year were being culled. While I really enjoy seeing them in the area, I can't help thinking that this culling program should be increased to significantly reduce the Sika Deer population in the area.
Sika Deer: After sizing the fence up, the nipper decided to just walk around it close to the water's edge
Culling the Sika Deer numbers would help to re-establish the undergrowth that Sika Deer are incredibly good at removing. Perhaps this would allow some of our migrant Warblers like Willow Warblers & Chiffchaffs to improve their numbers in the Purbeck area. Talking to ex-local Steve Morrison, there used to be around a 100 pairs of breeding Willow Warblers at Studland in the 1970s. These day's there are probably only 10-20 pairs. The decline of Willow Warblers in the South of the UK will be down to a number of factors, however, loss of ground cover for nesting in the Purbeck area will be one of those factors. Apparently, Sika Deer have been good at opening up paths within the marshes which have benefited the local Water Rail population. I wouldn't support a complete elimination, but removing half or more of the Sika Deer population, along with a study of the impacts & benefits would be good.
Sika Deer
Another local resident at Middlebere are the Foxes. There are one or two that I sometimes see close to the main hide & which are happy to pose for photos. However, I've not managed to photograph any of the really young cubs in the past. So was happy when this Fox cub decided to rectify that situation.
Fox cub: Initially, it wasn't sure about me
Fox cub: But it quickly realised I wasn't a threat
Fox cub: Like all nippers, it quickly got impatience to explore further & was off soon after this photo