Saturday, 6 March 2010

Deer Friends are new Neighbours

As the towns sprawl ever further into the countryside, I've noticed that the wildlife is beginning to adapt, seeking refuge in the suburbs. The foxes have accustomed well to this environment often living right under our noses unnoticed. More and more I come across signs that deer too are our new neighbours. You might be unaware of their presence but the evidence is there. Food missing from bird tables, choice plants or blooms nibbled away, or the minute little hoofs marks in a soily border. The culprit? The tiny Muntjac deer. The ability to breed all year round, remain hidden in the undergrowth of the most modest garden, and to exist a solitary lifestyle causing little impact to its environment, has meant that it's spread across the country has been inconspicuous.

Although I've come across them during the day in the countryside, in the suburbs they wisely use the cover of darkness. Usually I only spot them in the distance as they cross the roads between parkland and gardens. Their eyes reflect the car headlights, and combined with the pale part of their ears, they can take on the appearance of a Hyena when viewed head on!
Fruitless attempts to film them in an urban setting have left me frustrated, so it was ironic that, after many hours of searching I managed to video this chap just a few hundred yards away from my house.

Their call is very similar to a fox and easily confused (hear it here), but it is slightly harsher, more metallic and less 'musical'. So if you hear what you think are foxes calling in the night, the roses aren't flowering too well this year, and the garden birds are looking hungry... then maybe you have a deer friend too!


Maverick Domestic Goddess Engineering said...

neat stuff ... I love it... how fun!!

Lavender said...

"Fruitless attempts to film them in an urban setting...few hundred yards away from my house."

ROFL I understand that feeling LOL

Great stuff Barkfoot!

If deer are nibbling your roses etc, try sprinkling dried blood and bone on the molested shrubbery - it works on the Red Tailed deer back in the USA, so why not on these guys? The only trouble with this method is it needs to be re-applied regularly as dew or rain will wash it off the plants, but no harm there, feeds the garden and totally natural...

Always love your posts, Mate!

Kay said...

I live a few minutes from you but have never been lucky enough to see these.
I love reading your blog although I read about the foxes with mixed feelings as I have ex battery rescue chickens in my back garden.

barkfoot said...

Kay- The Muntjacs are incredibly timid. It is usually in the middle of the night (3am) that I see them in the suburbs. At dusk you can often spot them on the railway cuttings and also in Sutton Park in the less accessible marshy areas near the lakes browsing on the reed shoots. If you come across any tracks, it is worth revisiting that spot again, as they are creatures of habit and tend to have their own little route.
I can understand your mixed feelings about the foxes, I hope you manage to keep your chickens safe and sound.

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

Very cool!!