Muntjac manor

Muntjac manor

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.

18th May 2017

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.

3rd July 17 looking worn

It may be that the barrier the fence has formed, has made the areas either side, more heavily used.

26th April 2018
A Rabbit has got in

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.

The muntjac kid likes a Carrot.

The site offers everything they want. It is quiet. It has the woodland they need for cover and food.

What they like to eat is usually found on the edge of the wood. As the bluebell project has shown, once the new growth stage has passed, they don't seem interested,

Even though we have the bulk of the clips on the pasture, unlike red and fallow deer they don't graze at all.

Other people see them in bramble patches. Bramble is prolific, once it is browsed, then new growth (what they like) starts again.

The muntjacs have been turning up during the summer, but not as often as previous seasons.

During october 2017, a juvenile muntjac was witnessed being hit by a car on a nearby road. It was assumed to be our youngster from the previous christmas.

It had been visiting an apple tree during the day.

A little more than a week later, a little further down the road, an older muntjac was hit.

The next day when the cards were checked we had some unexpected clips.

We knew that one of the resident females was pregnant (we think the juvenile from the previous year). The bucks had been visiting in april, so were expecting a kid to appear in november. We had one on film with the hind.

Another clip showed four animals. Two were the mother and kid, there was a buck and another possible female. Bucks only tend to stay around when a female is in oestrus, maybe the other female?

The recording was 21/10/2017.

The second deer was hit 25/10/2017.

We are assuming that one of these animals was the one on the road.

The next few are at a new setting. We wanted more interaction. This setting is a clump of trees close to the wood, and has a hedge behind, it offers cover, so the visitors seem more comfortable. We hadn’t been putting any food out since last winter, but have started leaving a few carrots here, to see what will come.

With the wide angle camera

The track again

In the snow

The buck seems to be tasting the snow, as it starts to fall.

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