Deer roe deer - the bluebells?

April 06, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I just happen to have been born in mid April, coinciding nicely with the appearance of bluebells in our British woods (a very British thing bluebells - half of the world's bluebells are to be found on our islands)  - Anna and I have taken to an annual bluebell pilgrimage around or just after my birthday each year.

Those of you that read this blog who know me might have realised by now that I am a huge fan of woods and forests. I may have a fair amount of scottish blood in me, but I am no highlander - a soft southerner or at least a lowlander is what I am really. Give me lowland heaths and woods rather than mountains, heather and the midge-infested Caledonia any day!

Down in what I call my natural habitat I can find toads and badgers, foxes and weasels, nightjar and deer, dogs mercury, fungi and bluebells....

Well... I have read that because of this year's strange dry winter and spring, bluebells are appearing early in 2012 and unless you live in the wetter north of the country, the annual display is somewhat strangled by the dry ground.

I decided to take my weekly drive through the local countryside a day earlier than most weeks (it's a long weekend after all) and see if the best bluebell wood that I know of had anything popping out of the ground yet...

On the way I came the closest I have ever come to hitting a deer with the LAM (my Little Agricultural Machine - my car) - a muntjac that seemed intent on commiting suicide by choosing to amble across the empty road just as my car steamed into view.

It's a while since I performed an emergency stop for real (since my driving test to be exact) but that action was necessary in the gloomy drizzle before dawn this morning and I missed the deer by no more than a couple of inches.

I'm pretty glad I did miss it - I've noticed that my nearside fog light has cracked and fogged (but still works) last week and the muntjac would have certainly taken out the other (offside) foglight as well as the headlight and bumper I have no doubt.

(I should point out here that I might have been a lot more worried about the deer itself (rather than the car) if the deer had been a native roe deer. Muntjac are hardly worth worrying about in my opinion).

I arrived at my bluebell wood in the gathering light and as an indignant cock pheasant exploded from the brambles beside me as I walked to the wood I surveyed the ground foliage for my annual treat. (The wood is the same wood that Anna and I used to go toad-rescuing at).

Well.... it seems to be true - lots of bluebell leaves and little else. Oh sure, the flowers are showing, but in far less numbers than I normally see (maybe about 10% of normal) and the experience was a little underwhelming to be fair.

Am I early? (Normally we'd visit in late April). I hope so, but I have a feeling like I mentioned at the top of this piece, that this year's displays down in the south of the country will be poor. Very poor.


In need of a colour fix in the dark grey start to the day, I thought I'd check on a local oilseed rape field on the way back home (I have a photo or two in mind when the blooms are at their showiest).

As I climbed out of the car and looked for future vantage points, two dark, elegant, leggy roe does stared at me from maybe 50 yards away, before about turning and pronking gently away into the hidden valley. Lovely beasts, roe deer - so much more elegant and proud than the stubbier, stockier, noisy barking deer that I'd nearly flattened an hour earlier....

Blurbell wood


Please note - the accompanying photo (above) to this blog is of the bluebell display last year. Taken at dawn and made somewhat abstract by moving the camera down as I took the shot at dawn, it's an image that sums up bluebell time to me - unfortunately that feeling might not be around this year. I just hope I'm early and the heady sight will appear at its normal time in a fortnight.


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