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Thread: Sika heading West

  1. #1

    Sika heading West

    It's well known that there is a healthy population of sika East of the M74 in South West Scotland, but less so West of the motorway. . . Tonight on the way home from work I always have a look at a nice wee 'deery' corner just off the road, I regularly see roe in it.

    This evening however my attention was drawn to what quite clearly wasn't a roe. I managed to reverse back and confirm without doubt that the deer was in fact a big old sika hind.

    This was approximately twenty miles West of the M74, they are almost certainly heading cross country.
    Last edited by Cadex; 14-03-2015 at 06:04.

  2. #2
    I'm not surprised to be honest, what is surprising is why it has taken so long. If that's you seeing them they have probably been there for some time though.

    M

  3. #3

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Mauser243 View Post
    what is surprising is why it has taken so long.
    Sika populations tend to expand by an eruptive process - they basically hang about in one place without expanding for years and then one Tuesday afternoon they up sticks and expand 25 miles in an afternoon. All the reading I've done seems to indicate that no one is quite sure why this is. I suspect that they can also disappear from an area in a similar way.

    I know one spot with a good sika population and there are several other really good areas nearby which have the same ecology, land use patterns, vegetation, cover and so on, but not a single sika. So although sika expansion is often quoted as, say, 1km per year the truth is that it is 0km for 25 years and then a sudden eruptive migration in a period of hours or a few days.
    For self catering accommodation on the Isle of Lewis please visit:
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  5. #5
    I used to see 3 hinds quite regular out on a edge of a restock site on the west side of the mway, that was just before the windmills on the summit started so possibly 5 yrs ago, mibee even longer.
    There will have been a hell of a disturbance up there the past 5 or so years with all the standing timber felled for the turbines, u'd think that will have pushed them somewhere.

    Fallow tend to be the same (althou will not move as readily or as far) know of a couple of large groups (80+ )that live very close too each other and usually see them in the same 3 or 4 fields yet the rest of the farm u never ever see them on, same as the surrounding farms. And some of the surrounding fields have better grass and still plenty of wods about for shelter/cover. Always amazed they don't move for better grazing and set up smaller groups

  6. #6
    Sika have been in the borders for over a century. They can be found in large numbers on one side of a valley, but only in small numbers literally a mile away. And there is no major motorway preventing them from moving.

    They are very secretive animals and unique in their habits. Granted, large numbers in one area may cause a movement, as will forestry operations but why East or west when land north looks to us to be just as inviting? Only the deer know the answer.

    There are lots of areas where you would think Sika would thrive on the periphery of the main nucleus but for some reason only smallish numbers show up.

    The area around Hearthstanes, Dawyck and Stobo certainly have the heaviest population, and while major movement is seen East and west of there, it is noticeable that they haven't moved in such large numbers to the north or south. Before anyone says, I've got them on my ground south, I know they are there, but not in major numbers by comparison. It could be the case that whenever they are seen they are shot and not getting the chance to establish, but impersonally think its more a case of them being very fussy, and knowing what they like.

    there have been at least two reports recently of Sika being seen well east of this nucleus, one near Stow and the other even further east to just North of Lauder.ma good friend of mine who has stalked Sika regularly, saw a hind just over his March on ground above Cathpair, (Lauder/Stow area) he went over and found the slot marks which further convinced him it was a Sika hind. As the crow flies this isn't actually that far a distance for a deer to travel from main areas of population, and Sika move quickly...

    One or two appearing in my opinion doesn't mean 'you have Sika' as such as they could just as quickly bugger off again however, if there are hinds you can almost guarantee there will be stags, so who knows what may happen if they are left alone for a bit...

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by jamross65 View Post
    if there are hinds you can almost guarantee there will be stags, so who knows what may happen if they are left alone for a bit...
    Actually that is a very good point - stags will tend to move about and pop up here and there. Seeing a sika stag means nothing, even seeing a good sized group of them, as they could be 30 miles away the next day. However if you are seeing hinds then you almost certainly have a population which MAY be resident. It has also been found that stags often move into an area before the arrival of hinds, the slight problem being that it can be a very many years before the hinds follow.

    The catch with this is that sika also migrate. Sika hinds tend to live in a very small area, usually a few acres, but they will sometimes migrate between a summer area and a winter one, this is well documented and I've also got personal experience of it. The actual departure for migration tends to be rather piecemeal and seems to happen any time between the end of October and the end of January usually with small numbers of deer leaving at random times during this period but with the potential for them all to leave at once. However, they all tend to move back in a relatively short time span, in my case usually about the middle week in March, and they appear to do this as a group unlike the normally piecemeal departure.

    So your westerly hind might have been on its summer ground, or winter ground, or moving between the two.

    As jamross65 has said they are secretive and if this is its winter ground then there could be a hundred of them in there and you'd never see one as in winter they need to feed less and they tend (where they feel pressure) only to feed at night. They should be moving off their winter ground soon if they behave anything like mine, or like those in the studies. If this is their summer ground, however, then activity should be increasing within the next few weeks and by the middle of end of April it should become relatively easy, with care, to see them feeding out around sunrise and sunset with the potential for the occasional one to move during the day.

    It seems to me that a lot of people apply what they know about red deer to sika and while it is true in the most general sense it often doesn't work for specific behaviour. The following book, although very expensive, is well worth reading if you are interested. I would imagine a local library might get it for you, I managed to get a 2nd hand copy for a small fraction of the new cost:

    http://www.springer.com/gb/book/9784431094289
    For self catering accommodation on the Isle of Lewis please visit:
    http://www.7south.co.uk/




  8. #8
    There are odd pockets of sika west of the M74 but I hope they are shot on sight to avoid hybridisation as thus they are encroaching on red ground.

    The sika I have seen furthest from their range have been stags of 3-4 years upwards.

    ATB
    Nick

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by NickJ View Post
    There are odd pockets of sika west of the M74 but I hope they are shot on sight to avoid hybridisation as thus they are encroaching on red ground.

    The sika I have seen furthest from their range have been stags of 3-4 years upwards.

    ATB
    Nick

    In in time it will be inevitable I'm afraid.

    M

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