During november 2016 we started a project monitoring the wildlife around Cannock Chase. To achieve this with the least disturbance we used trail cameras. We set them in secret locations.
We were aware of where we could film certain species, but there was one, the muntjac, we knew very little about. In fact between us, you could count on one hand how many times we had seen them. So this became our first target species. We had read reports that as an introduced species they were devastating the eco system, and that within a few years they would be the most populous deer in the UK.
As we knew very little about them, we hoped the recordings would increase our knowledge. The first site produced one clip, but the second site has produced a huge amount. We post a lot of the footage on our YouTube Channel, but we try to vary the species, so flooding it with so many Muntjac clips would soon put visitors off. We have a lot of similar videos so are now deleting many.
This page is purely for muntjac. This way we can keep more of the clips. If you are reading this, you won't be expecting anything else.
We soon realised that our site was the territory of a heavily pregnant doe and her youngster (We knew it was her youngster as it often tried to suckle her). There was also a buck that would appear. The clips are roughly in order, and show how things change during the seasons.
Many people hear muntjac barking, but we managed to film one.
The doe must have given birth just after christmas. We got the first look at the fawn (kid) in the new year.
We heard squealing with the older youngster. We watched the fawn demanding to be fed. It would squeal and try and push underneath the doe. I love how the doe says no! Her tail goes up, then if the fawn continues, she wags her tail side to side as she pulls away.
We noticed that the doe didn't like suckling. After watching this, you can understand why.
This is one of my favourite clips. Watch the doe's annoyance, and how she communicates it.
Hygiene is important to deer too!
We have got very little footage from a camera set up along a stream. We were pleased with this though.
You know when they aren't interested or alarmed. It's all in the tail! We've got clips of a buck approaching the doe and the youngster, their tails both went up, a clear signal they were not interested.
During April there were three bucks visiting. We assumed the doe was in oestrus. The smaller buck was tolerated by the bigger ones.
The Bluebell project
We wanted to find out if Muntjac cause as much damage to bluebells as people say. Early April as the plants appeared, we set a camera to record what they do. We are also setting up two small test plots that are fenced, to see the difference without the deer.
On April 22cnd the first of the test plots was set up (A fenced area). The theory is, the deer can't get in, we can then compare the difference either side of the plot. If there is damage to the plants inside the plot, we will know that something else must be eating them too.
The buck came through again.
On our visit on May 11th, there were no captures of muntjac in the bluebells. We set up a second camera to check the first was working properly.
Our next visit on May 18th not a single Muntjac again.
There is no difference in the test plots to the rest of the plants around them.
We are coming to the conclusion that once past the initial stage, the muntjac aren't interested in the bluebells (We would have to have the plots in place at an earlier point next year to prove this though).
The woodland edge is the Muntjacs favourite place. There is more light, and a better choice of plants to browse.
We have recorded deer eating bluebells, but it's not muntjac. Red deer seem to like the seed heads.
The test plot was checked on 3rd July 2017, there is a noticeable difference now.
It may be that the barrier the fence has formed, has made the areas either side, more heavily used.
The mineral block
The first mineral block was set up on a tree stump during the winter. It had very little interest until it had almost washed away. The red deer rather than muntjac were the ones that used it. The muntjac however seemed to use the stump as a marking point.
The stump is out of their comfort zone, however the deer have a good view of what is about, and can get into cover quickly if they feel threatened.
More weekly clips
These were taken on a track. They seemed to be following each other.