An early morning garden visit from a muntjac deer
I got up at the same time as yesterday, when I had to prepare for the market in Minchinhampton. As usual before going to make tea I looked out of my study window, and noticed the light dusting if a frost on the roof of the garden cabin. Then this muntjac deer gingerly walked up from the bottom of the garden towards the patio. I was delighted and immediately went downstairs to get my camera, which luckily had a zoom attached.
But by the time I got back to the window which would give me a view from a higher position, it had disappeared. I waited a few minutes and then it appeared again from the bushes near the hedge and walked away down the garden. It stopped to have a sniff of the clothes line, which obviously has become a territory 'marker' for animals. (I think it might need a clean).
Then it ambled away back down to the end of the garden where the slope of the hillside becomes very steep and drops down to the Lime Brook about fifty feet below.
I was delighted to see a deer visiting the garden again, the first time this year. Because our garden backs on to the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) we get a wide range of wildlife visiting and badgers are also regular visitors, as proven by the holes they dig in the grass. We are very lucky. I just wish that they didn't include squirrels.
From the British Deer Society website:
Muntjac like deciduous or coniferous forests, preferably with a diverse understorey. They are also found in scrub and overgrown urban gardens. Unlike other species of deer in Britain, muntjac do not cause significant damage to agricultural or timber crops. However, high densities may prevent coppice regeneration and the loss of some plants of conservation importance, such as primulas. In contrast to all other species of deer in Britain, muntjac do not have a defined breeding season (rut). Instead, they breed all year round and the does can conceive again within days of giving birth. Does are capable of breeding at seven months old. After a gestation period of seven months, they give birth to a single kid and are ready to mate again within a few days. Bucks can live up to 16 years and does up to 19 years, but these are exceptional.
Muntjac are generally solitary or found in pairs (doe with kid or buck with doe) although pair-bonding does not occur. Bucks defend small exclusive territories against other bucks whereas does' territories overlap with each other and with several bucks. They are known as ‘barking deer’ from the repeated loud bark given under a number of circumstances. An alarmed muntjac may scream whereas maternal does and kids squeak.
Muntjac are active throughout the 24-hour period but make more use of open spaces during the hours of darkness in populations subject to frequent disturbance. Peak activity is at dawn and dusk. Long periods are spent ‘lying up’, where the deer lies down to ruminate after feeding.