“Can’t see the wood for the trees…Hang on a second, what’s that?” (Photo courtesy of Nature's Home readers, Ant and Rowena Fryer)

Ambling through woodland is undoubtedly one of the best ways to get lost in nature. The sounds, sights and scents are refreshingly lifting – a perfect route to both get lost in thought or restore the wonders of mindfulness. However, have you ever felt a slight sense of unease - perhaps as though you’re being followed?

Nature’s Home readers Rowena and Ant Fryer certainly felt so when this little face popped up amongst the ferns in Cannock Chase in Staffordshire. While strolling along the Two Saints from Chester to Lichfield, they were joined by a reclusive lone hiker. Here, the star of our photo of the week brings a new perspective to the phrase “deer stalker.”

Deer have remained a part of our natural history and heritage for centuries. Due to a lack of natural predation their populations have thrived and, in some places, exceeded capacity for the land. There are six species of deer found in the wild in the UK; red, sika, fallow, roe and Chinese water deer, with muntjac being the smallest species.

Red deer live in social groups throughout much of the year, with reddish/brown coats in spring and summer replaced with a brown-grey fur in autumn. The stag’s impressive antlers can span as much as 1 metre and weigh up to 15kg!

Sika are also sociable animals but like this chap in our photo of the week, prefer to hide amongst dense cover or woodland in the daytime. Sika are shy animals and have an impressively wide vocal range in comparison to other deer species.

Fallow are most commonly spotted lurking in woodland and deer parks across the country, boasting fabulous summer coats that are light brown flecked with white. However, winter coats vary in the winter months from white to black. Braver than other deer, they tolerate humans more and are less flighty than their relatives.

Roe are widespread across the UK and can be found in most counties, with their preferred habitat being that of the cover of dense trees where they feed on young foliage. Unlike red, sika and fallow, roe deer are highly territorial and unsociable. These three larger UK species, red, sika and fallow, are predominately grazers and head out into fields to feed between dusk and dawn.  

Muntjac deer weigh in at roughly the same size of a Labrador and are unique in the sense that they breed year-round – giving birth to a fawn every seven or eight months. Their distinctive barking is haunting and rings through the countryside to warn other deer of a threat. Like roe, they’re a territorial species and seek dense thicket or foliage for safety and protection.

Chinese water deer are slightly larger, feeding on grasses, rushes and sedges across open ground. They prefer a solitary life and can be seen either on their own or does with their kids in tow.

The handsome male above falls into the fallow species. Photographer Ant explained that the deer was startled at first and started to flee deeper into the woodland, but couldn’t resist the pull of curiosity - and so soon stopped to look back at and admire its paparazzi.

We want to see your wildlife photos! If you’ve got any that you think we’d love (especially anything weird and wonderful!) email them to us at natureshome@rspb.org.uk

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