Popped over to the stalking ground yesterday evening but took the camera rather than the rifle, as there had been a party of French over so plenty of stalking done already.
I was hoping to catch a few good shots of muntjac as they are more common here than on the ground where I walk the dogs. As ever, though, the best laid plans don't always work as they should.
I took two cameras with me, one with a 500mm lens and the other with the 300mm (plus 1.4x teleconverter).
Appearing at the top of a bank looking down into a glade I picked up three muntjac. First, hidden away behind some branches, there was a doe with an attendant buck who were both clearly in the throes of changing from winter to summer coat. This was with the 500mm lens.
On the right-hand side of the glade I then spied another doe, this time in the depths of the ferns. She was slowly making her way, grazing as she went. With her head down it was often only possible to see her by the shape of her back. Horizontal lines are surprisingly scarce in the natural world, so it's one of the things I always search for when scanning an area through binoculars.
Moving on I started to stalk through some thicker woodland, eventually spying another doe through the undergrowth:
Finally as the light began to fail a doe appeared followed by a small buck. I was hoping they might turn towards me along the track and present a better picture, but clearly they hadn't read the script and instead disappeared, not to be seen again.
What struck me when back at home and looking at the photos taken was how well the muntjac can disappear into the undergrowth. For a non-native species they seem to have found an almost ideal environment.
For anyone more used to stalking on the open Hill it must be quite a shock having to spot a dark brown animal the size of a spaniel tucked away in the bracken and the brambles. To give an idea, this is the same picture of the first doe, but uncropped. Again, bear in mind this was taken with a 300mm lens, so already considerably easier to see than with the naked eye or even binoculars.