A Muntjac deer was spotted strolling through the orchard yesterday. This lockdown has had some benefits for wildlife, with fewer people out and about. Not that these little deer are particularly shy, which is one reason for their increasing numbers.

Muntjac deer, properly called Reeves Muntjac, may have been introduced from the Woburn estate at the end of the nineteenth century, or possibly from Whipsnade zoo. They quickly adapted and have become widespread in urban areas where our native deer do not usually like to visit. They are certainly cheeky – One female used to lick the dew from the back door handle every morning, just the other side of the glass from me as I made my breakfast. And her fawn, no bigger than a cat, ‘laid up’ in a little scrape in the flower bed.

The Cambridge Natural History Society has found that Muntjac are very fond of wild flowers, especially oxslips, and I found they ate almost everything in my garden except hardy geraniums and mint. We shall check the guards around the orchard trees because in hard weather the deer will eat the bark. Still, I enjoy seeing them around, and even their strange, barking call, which I can only transcribe as ‘GRO – OH – ONK’ makes me smile.