Muntjac in a meadow

We recently had a few days away with the dogs in a cottage near Stratford upon Avon.

The cottage was in a classic English village with a green and a nice pub. It had a decent sized garden for the dogs to play in and for us to sit out and enjoy a drink in the evening. The garden backed on to a meadow which was grazed by a dozen sheep and for a couple of the nights we were there, a pair of muntjac deer.

We spotted a female from the kitchen window and I was able to grab my camera and take a few pictures.

I'd never seen a muntjac before, apparently they have spread to Yorkshire but they are few and far between. They were originally introduced from China to Woburn Park in the early 20th century and through escapees and deliberate releases we now have a sizeable population.

They are a small squat deer standing around 0.5m at the shoulder. They weigh around 18kg and can live up to 15 years. They are able to breed all year round so don't really have a rut like other species of deer. Does are capable of breeding at seven months old. After a gestation period of seven months, they give birth to a single fawn and are ready to mate again within a few days.

The next evening we were much more observant of the meadow and around 9pm we were treated to a visit by a pair. The males or bucks are a bit strange looking with a flat face and antlers. They also have huge canine teeth and an incredibly long tongue.

Also known as the ‘barking deer’, muntjac vocalise in many different situations. The bark is repeated and loud for its size. Muntjac also scream when frightened. Does and offspring communicate with a series of squeaks.

The next day I decided to set up my trail camera in the field and later I sat out under the bushes at the edge of the field to see if I could get some closer pictures. About an hour into my stake out one deer appeared but the lay of the land meant I could just see its ears as it walked through the meadow and disappeared.

There are 6 deer species living wild in the UK and after spotting this beautiful pair I just have one more more on my list to see, the Chinese water deer.

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