roe deerI got out early this morning to our favourite dog-walking spot, near Berthem, with Leuven visible in the far distance. I am a wildlife enthusiast and our favoured circuit always rewards: a red squirrel darting across a lane; a green woodpecker flashing through a copse; rabbits a-plenty; birds of prey and buzzards soaring above. But this morning we were richly rewarded with sightings of two early march hares and three roe deer. The roe deer is remarkable for several reasons. One is that after the spring mating season the female somehow keeps her fertilised egg (roe deer typically give birth to twins) in a state of suspended development until the following spring, with the fawns being born in May or June. The second is that the fawns are not only genetically programmed to stay stock still when their mother is away foraging but produce absolutely no detectable scent. A hunting hound could pass within a few metres of roe deer fawns and see and smell nothing. For this reason roe deer fawns, if discovered, should never be handled because if the handler imparts human scent to the fawns their mother, sensing this, might well abandon them. The three deer we saw this morning still had their bright white winter rump markings and made a sprightly get away along the crest of a hill.