In the early hours

After a deep sleep, I awoke at 3am this morning and was suddenly wide awake. One of my sinuses was playing up. I tired to go back to sleep for an hour, knowing I would fail. Then, just after 4am, I heard the distant but unmistakeable call of a cuckoo: my first of the spring. It called for several minutes. I was delighted: I didn’t hear any cuckoos last year.

After another hour tossing and turning, I decided to get up. I dressed and, as I always do, had a quick look out of the landing window. There was something white and out of place near our hawthorn hedge. It took me a few seconds to resolve in the dim, dawn light: the scut of roe deer that was browsing on the young leaves.

It was too dark for photos, but I tiptoed into the study anyway to fetch my camera. By the time I returned to the window, the deer was tucking into the Welsh poppies growing at the side of our driveway. I took a few hand-held shots on a ridiculously slow shutter-speed. The results were far from ideal, but better than I expected.

Roe deer

By the time I’d crept downstairs and eased open the back door to try to get a better look, the deer was sauntering off across our neighbour’s field.

Roe deer

It was lovely being outside at 05:15, with the day all to myself, and the local wildlife getting on with its business before anyone else came along to mess things up.

I should have bad nights’ sleep more often.

Richard Carter

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. He is currently working on a book about looking at the world through Darwin’s eyes.Website · Newsletter · Mastodon · Facebook

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