Roe Deer Pyjamas.
Wildlife artist Robert E Fuller ventures out to watch roe deer in his pyjamas as featured in the Gazette and Herald May 2012.
MY three-year-old daughter came rushing in to the bedroom at six in the morning and announced that it was morning "-ish". "I can hear the birds singing," she said defiantly when she spotted my scowl. She isn't usually allowed up until 6.30am. The tree sparrows sit on the gutter outside her bedroom window and, admittedly, chirrup with relentless gaiety at that time.
I gave in, as I usually do, and we headed downstairs. As I was warming her milk, I opened the kitchen blind and there were two roe deer in the field at the end of the garden. They were so close I couldn't resist the urge to photograph them. I switched CBeebies on for Lily and grabbed my camera. I was still in my pyjamas but I pulled on wellies, a camouflage jacket and a woolly hat for good measure and headed out.
It was a beautiful morning. The mist was hanging in the valley below and Lily was right; the birds really were singing. I could hear mistle thrushes, song thrushes, dunnocks, wrens, chaffinches and pied wagtails; all loudly welcoming the arrival of spring. Even the garden pond was frothing and bubbling as the frogs and toads got going in the morning sunlight. I crept round the corner of the house, but just as I caught a view of the deer silhouetted by the mist in the early morning light, a car drove past and spooked them.
They trotted off, heading towards the bottom of the valley. I started to follow, but then changed my tack, crossing a field and heading towards a long, quiet dale behind our house where I have often seen roe deer before.
I figured that the pair may have headed there, so I broke in to a run in the hope of reaching the dale before they did. I was only just in time. As I got to the other side of the field I saw them approach - only their legs were visible from under the hedge. I climbed the fence and crouched under a hawthorn bush; the grass was wet through with dew and felt cold through my flimsy pyjama trousers. Quickly, I fixed my camera onto its tripod and checked my settings.
There were just seconds to spare before the roe doe appeared out in the open. I quickly rattled off a few shots. She froze at the sound of the shutter. She glared at me and then suddenly the buck arrived behind her. It was a tense moment as they both looked straight at me. I think my camouflage jacket was doing its job because they kept on walking towards me, heading straight past me into the valley below.
But when she was just 20 yards away, the female froze again, catching my scent.
That was it. Suddenly they were off: bounding down the valley in huge leaps, their white rumps bobbing behind them. I turned and headed home, my pyjamas now sodden with dew. All of a sudden I felt conscious of what a sight I must have looked. Thank goodness it was so early and no one had spotted me in my pyjamas.