16 October 2014

Deer deer

The air was still, dry but not yet properly warm ; everything was recovering from what had felt like a week of rain.

Admittedly it had been much needed rain, but it had still come as something of a shock after such a long and dry start to autumn. If it rained at all in September, I don't remember it.

This suddenly-quiet weather was matched by suddenly-quiet trees, hedges and waterways as I nipped out for another lunchtime walk through the fields near my office.

At first almost nothing showed, just a small blue tit flock passing around me. Then, as I paused to consider which way to turn next, I noticed movement on the far side of a neighbouring field.

My binoculars initially picked up a handful of pheasants working their way along the edge of the field, but then I found something much more interesting.

Two deer were standing stock still. They were small deer, larger than a large dog but not by much, with heads just a bit too small for their body size. Both were dark in colour (reddish? hard to tell in what was still fairly gloomy light), and each had a pale patch around the tail and some white around the mouth.

Roe deer, one of the two native British species, and not a species I encounter as much as I would like. Both proceeded to pick their way along the hedgerow for a couple of minutes, clearly unaware of my presence, before finally slipping through a gap which was too small for me to even see.

I was still staring into the space they had left behind when the distinctive 'cronk' of a raven caught my attention. I turned and found it flying low and directly over my head. Satisfied with my lunchtime stroll I turned for home - only for a female sparrowhawk to join in with a slow and low flap-flap-glide across my path.

In case you're wondering about the image, I'm afraid the chances of me getting close enough to a wild roe deer to take a photograph are pretty slim. Where I haven't got a photo from now on I've decided to include whatever sketch I may have done during (and often completed after) the sighting. That I'm no artist you'll be able to work out yourself, but for me a birding notebook isn't really a birding notebook unless it's got pencil sketches in it - however good, bad or indifferent they may be.

Species of they day:  Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), a mammal natural to the British Isles but, in a wearyingly familiar pattern, needing to be reintroduced several times having initially been hunted to extinction by 1800. Now abundant enough in England and Scotland, but not always easy to find, particularly around parts of the Midlands apparently.

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