I am completely overwhelmed by the response from you following the Countryfile Summer Diaries. Thank you, all, for your enthusiasm, encouragement and good wishes.
I’m away from the farm for a couple of days visiting my son and his family so am unable to write my usual posts. Bear with me until I get home.

Read on, though, for a extraordinary experience I had last Thursday afternoon that I’d like to share with you.


Red Deer Herd in flight

On one of my walks with the dogs I often come across a group of Red Deer. I meet them at various times during the year, generally singly or in small groups.
The dogs aren’t that interested in red deer. Jill, not at all, Skye enjoys following the scent but would never take up the chase and Ness learnt from an early experience that you don’t mess with Reds.

Last week the wind was coming from the North which is unusual for us. Because of this I was able to see all kinds of wildlife (our scent being behind us) before it realised we were there, and not, which is usual, a tantalizing glimpse of it disappearing over the horizon.

I was walking along the edge of a stream bordering a forest when I caught a strong smell of red deer. The smell is a muskier version of the scent of horses and quite unmistakable. I stopped, sniffing the air like an animal. The dogs looked and me enquiringly. I dropped them down, and told them to stay as I slowly crept to an old gateway. There, in front of me, was a herd of Reds the like of which I’ve never seen. Around forty to fifty animals grazing, sleeping and playing in a meadow that had recently been cut. I silently and cautiously made my way along the shaded hedgerow and started to move gradually closer to them across the field. There was no cover and I was dressed in light-coloured clothing, feeling horridly conspicuous. The dogs were being extraordinarily good but loosing sight of me was too much for them. They slinked forward…I frantically waved my hand at them – they dropped – thank goodness – and waited. Slowly, slowly I edged forward and managed to get within 100 meters of herd before a harsh alarm bark was sounded. It wasn’t even me that had aroused them but a movement over the far side of the field. In a flash their heads came up, more harsh barks, high stepping they collected themselves together and were off, lightning-fast, into the safty of the forest.

I managed to catch a few rather distant pictures with my very basic camera – but maybe they will capture just a touch of the wonder I felt seeing this extraordinarily large wild herd. And yes, those are white Red Deer…a little bit of magic.


white Red Deer calf in foreground with the dam behind