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This little muntjac is so fluffy that I think that it must still be quite young – we quite regularly see adults in our garden, and even in winter they have much sleeker coats than this. It was very nervous, picking its way gingerly across the clearing at Hillers towards the discarded farm shop produce and jumping at the slightest sound, but having got there it settled down and ate quickly, hoovering up brassica leaves and fruit. It didn’t stay long, but there’s very little cover in the wood at the moment, and I suspect that most of the buffet visitors prefer to dine at night when they’re less vulnerable to potential predators.

Speaking of predators, I think that the sparrowhawk must have been around quite shortly before I arrived, because there were no birds at all in the clearing – the first time in many visits that I’ve had literally nothing to photograph. Every now and then I would see a distant pheasant lift its head before ducking back down, and I could hear quite a lot of twittering and chattering from the trees and shrubs close to the hide, but nothing was prepared to risk coming into the open, even with free food on offer. But almost as soon as the muntjac began feeding, half a dozen pheasants ran in and started picking through the food, and shortly after that the small garden birds began to arrive in ones and twos. They were still very flighty though, disappearing whenever they heard even a distant alarm call and taking quite a while to re-emerge.

A couple of days ago I talked about wildlife photography being a kind of mindfulness exercise, and this evening I happened on an article titled Holistic Photography that takes that idea much further. Too far, possibly: I found some sections of it a little fey for my comfort, but on the spectrum between philosopher and pragmatist I’m quite a long way towards the earthbound end so that’s probably not surprising. I did find it interesting though, and you might too – if you’d care to take a look you can find it here.