| The young red deer stags were on their hind legs boxing, just like hares|
|As I sat on the riverbank there was so much to see, and all against the background music of the river as its waters tumbled over the shallows. Lapwings were wheeling overhead in their display flight, as only these enigmatic waders can. Three brown hares on the lower grassland looked as though they were trying to decide whether to chase each other. And under some moribund birch trees were wild billies, nannies and kids – members of the tribe of goats that live in this part of the Upper Findhorn.|
But for me it was the red deer on either side of the river that stole the show. All of them were stags with varying sized antlers covered in the rich "velvet" that protects the growing bony branches underneath. There seemed to be something wrong: while those on a steep slope with plenty of scree on my side of the river were all at ease – some were laid down and others were grazing peacefully – the stags on the south side seemed distracted and nervous.
As if to demonstrate this, two of the larger deer were "boxing". They were up on hind legs and boxing with their fore legs, just like hares, as this – unlike fighting in the normal way – protects the antlers. It transpired that this group wanted to join those on the opposite, south-facing slope, for all at once three of them ventured into the fast-flowing, shallow river. Their splashing seemed to encourage the rest and before long all the stags were streaming through the water, line astern, showered in spray.
One or two hesitated midstream, as if still uncertain, but soon all had moved up the slope to join the others. Before long they too were either laid down or grazing, as if the adventure of the river crossing had never happened. Contentment at last.