Coun­try Mouse

Go­ing bark­ing mad

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

ICOULD have done with­out be­ing wo­ken by the res­i­dent munt­jac. Its tone­less bark, go­ing on and on re­lent­lessly for an hour, is not a sound of sooth­ing noc­tur­nal mu­si­cal­ity, like the tawny owl’s shiv­ery tu-whit, tu-whoo or the night­jar’s sweet chur­ring. Munt­jac ‘mu­sic’, more Bob Dy­lan than Bryn Ter­fel, jars even more than an amorous vixen.

Shout­ing ‘Shoo’ and other im­pre­ca­tions and flash­ing a torch didn’t even cause the wretched crea­ture to pause ner­vously, nor did a ‘Buzz off’ from the neigh­bour who owns the field through which it vis­its. I in­vited, via text, another neigh­bour, slightly deaf, to join in, but he replied next day, af­ter an un­in­ter­rupted night’s sleep: ‘What’s a bloody munt­jac?’

Next morn­ing, the lit­tle blighter stood chomp­ing on the lawn—or what’s left of it—its chubby cheeks bil­low­ing as it placidly in­gested a shrub in­stead of a weed. I know I should do some­thing about it, such as an ex­pen­sive fence, but there’s some­thing thrilling and wild about vis­its from the ‘wrong’ wildlife: a badger blun­der­ing around, a fox curled up asleep—it must have been a dumped ur­ban one—a spar­rowhawk sort­ing out a pesky pi­geon. It hasn’t stopped me look­ing up a munt­jac-mince recipe, how­ever.

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