I was visiting London during June and found time to spend a couple of hours with the camera in Bushy Park. These expansive parks on the outskirts of the capital are often very productive for wildlife photography and usually I will come away with a good selection of images of both the bird life and the herds of fallow and red deer.
The parks are ideally suited for a quick visit as the wildlife are accustomed to the large number of visitors and so generally more approachable. My session did not coincide with the best time of year, which is about now, when the deer are spectacular as they go through the motions of their annual rut. If you decide you want to go and watch or photograph the rutting deer, then some caution is necessary with the stags. These are large powerful animals with an overdose of testosterone coursing through their bodies which make them both less predictable and potentially dangerous. However, the rut is an event that is worth taking the effort to go and see. The sight of a large bellowing male stomping through the bracken in the early morning, before engaging in a head-on battle of strength with a rival stag, is a memorable sight. The parks look beautiful at this time of year as the bracken and trees change colour in the softer light of autumn.
During my visit the situation was much calmer with the deer gently grazing across the parkland wilderness. I started off the photography with some shots of Fallow Deer running. This herd shows a wide variety of colours from white spots on red, pure white and very dark brown.
At this time of year the bracken that forms large clumps across the park is high and allows for some photos of head and shoulders, when combined with a shallow depth of field, emerging from the mist of foliage.
I found this large Reed Deer stag moving through the bracken. This would be classed as a Royal Stag as it had twelve points to its antlers.
Whilst going through the images I decided for a change that I would convert some to black and white. Deer seem to be one of those species that always look good in monochrome. So below is a selection of photos of both Fallow and Red Deer.
At this time of year the antlers are covered in velvet which is shed in advance of the rut to create the jousting weapons for the clashes between rival males.
A younger stag giving me the stare. I think its probably these younger stags that present more danger to onlookers in the rutting period, as it was one such animal that showed some aggressive posturing towards me during an autumn visit. Needless to say I backed slowly away!
To finish off this post a Red Deer doe and huge stag amongst the bracken.
I hope this has inspired you to go and watch a rut this autumn if there are deer herds in your local area but please proceed with caution and as always respect the animals.