Posted by: Ross Gardner | July 28, 2016

Decisions, decisions…

I make reasonably frequent trips to Gatwick Airport, picking up and dropping off.  On the occasions of those early-morning drop-offs I am presented with a choice: turn straight round and head back into the full brunt of the M25 rush hour, or find somewhere to hunker down for a while let things quieten down a bit.  Being a short drive from the airport, that ‘somewhere’ is usually Hedgecourt Nature Reserve.  It is not a difficult choice to make

This area of damp woodland managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust has appeared on these pages before.  The occasion of this visit presented me with a second choice.  Hedgecourt is not a somewhere I have found that I can walk briskly around, insofar as I am easily distracted by most places that I visit, but even by these standards the paths here make for a decidedly stop-start affair.  By way of example, for such a small reserve it so often seems thronging with birdlife.  Even in the birdwatcher-frustrating weeks of high-summer the trees can be full of movement and calls – Nuthatch piping across the loftier boughs, tit-flocks twittering through the canopy, even a Kingfisher whistling up the stream.

It is somewhere that seems to demand frequent pausing and quiet observation.  Today however, it happened that I should stop and look to see another stopping and looking at me with reciprocated intent.  My eyes met those of a Roe Deer doe.  She seemed strangely at ease with my presence so close to her – still as edgy as one would expect, but not instantly bounding off across the moss covered trunks of fallen trees to be swallowed up by the wood.

But what of that choice put before me?  I had my binoculars around my neck and my camera over my shoulder.  Do I simply make the most of the moment and take the time to look more closely into the eyes of the handsome animal in front of me, or seize a rare opportunity to photograph said creature, hopefully capturing the shot before the camera flash sends it running into the trees?  What to do?  Well, let’s just say that I don’t have any evidence of the encounter to post on this blog.  I reached for my binoculars.  We looked at each other for quite a few seconds more, before the other stepped quietly off into deeper cover.  Sometimes moments are best stored in the physical memory rather than a digital one.  My surprise of such a passive encounter was heightened further when on walking a few metres further up the path I saw two fawns browsing on the understorey.  They too stood and looked at me for a few moments before slipping away out of view.

Anyway, not wanting to deprive you good readers of an accompanying image to the above musings, here is a shot of a Roe Deer taken at Chobham Common last summer.


Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus).  Ross Gardner 2015.

Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus). Ross Gardner 2015.


  1. Great post Ross! I live a 10 minute walk from Hedgecourt and it is therefore my local patch. I’m happy you like it so much, even though it is quite small! 🙂

  2. It is a wonderful place. Full of surprises!

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