Richmond Park Red Deer Rut 5th October 2014
I woke up at 4am to get my equipment ready and made the flask of coffee to take with us. We left our house at about 5.20am and traveled for about 1 hour until we reached Richmond Park at roughly 6.30am. They don't usually open the gates until 7am, but we were lucky this time as we just drove straight in because they opened them early. We headed up through the park and found a car park not far from Ham Gate, so we decided to park there. There was already lots of vehicles even at that time of the morning.
The morning was frosty, chilly and misty. As we began walking the sun was rising and turned the mist into a stunning golden glow.
We headed off down to where we could hear some stags bolving. After walking through the long wet grass for a few hundred yards, we finally found the stag that we could hear. As I got closer I could see that there was atleast 15 other photographers surrounding the stag, all snapping away and getting shots of him in the golden mist. Before heading off to find some more deer , I took a few images myself and soon left that stag alone to go and find some more deer away from the groups of people.
It was still very misty which was making wildlife very difficult to find, so we decided to stop for a while to wait for the mist to rise a little and to see if any wildlife came to us. After waiting for about 10 minutes we could hear stags bellowing in the distance. It seemed that the mist was going to take a while to disappear, so I decided to walk on a bit further and separate from my dad in order to avoid his camera keep clicking away in my videos as I wanted to get natural sounds of the birds and deer.
I came across a woodland that consisted of mainly oak trees. The mist was not as heavy in there compared to what it was like out in the open grassland. I stalked up to a fairly large stag that was bellowing away to another stag further on in the woodland. I got within a good distance from him and set my tripod up to get a steady shot, I switched my camera mode on to video and started filming away. I got some nice video of him scenting the ground with his antlers and also using the scent glands at the base of his eyes.
After spending about 10 minutes filming and photographing the stag, I decided to head back to try and find my dad. I walked back through another wood and through some long grass before I found him taking some pictures. Both me and my dad then decided to head on over to a fairly open piece of grassland where I spotted 4 decent size stags. We watched the stags from a distance for a few minutes when I saw 2 of them parallel walking. They do this before locking antlers and start to rut. So I walked closer towards them as I knew it wasn't going to be long before they started to rut. I got to a decent spot to film and photograph them and then sat down in the grass and waited. I didn't have to wait long for them to start rutting so I quickly pressed the record button on my camera and started to film them.
As I was concentrating on getting some good shots of them rutting, I didn't realize that they had got so close to me. I saw the people that were standing behind me backing off as the stags got closer, but I decided to stay where I was as I wanted to get some good shots and also because if i got up I may have disturbed them which could of meant them charging at me. The stags are quite dangerous at this time of year as its when they are trying to be the dominant male and have the most hinds to mate with. Luckily by staying put I managed to capture some great close up footage of them locking antlers and putting in all their force to come off the dominant stag. At one point I was concentrating on filming them that I didn't realize that they were only 3/4 feet away. They carried on rutting for about 5 minutes before one of the stags gave up and run off, which left the stronger stag the winner.
I was really happy with the photos and videos that I got so we slowly walked over to the nearby wood to find a log to sit on and have a cup of coffee and something to eat. We was sitting there and I heard something scratching on the tree above us , I looked up and could see 3 Ring Necked Parakeets sitting just a couple of feet above our heads - I quickly grabbed my camera and took a few images before they flew off. Both my dad and i finished off our coffee and food so we discussed where we should go next. We wasn't very far from one of the large ponds so that is where we headed off to.
At arriving at the pond we could see that most of the waterfowl was at the other end, so we walked along the length of the pond and found a nice spot to photograph the ducks etc from. We sat down on the bank and set our cameras up. The ducks, geese and swans all came very close to us which enabled us to get some nice close up shots. The sun was shinning through the leaves on the trees which was turning the water into a nice green color which made some of our images look nice. We had quite a few different species of ducks close by which included Mandarin , Mallard and also Pochard. We spent about 2 hours watching, photographing and filming the waterfowl before deciding to head off back towards the car as it was about 3pm so we were going to go home.
As we started walking back we come across one stag laying down, by the time we had got closer he decided to stand up and bellow atleast 7 or more times. I just love the sound that they make. I took a few images of him bellowing and then left him in peace and carried on walking back.
We was nearly back at the car park when I heard 2 stags bellowing, I looked down to my left to see 3 stags out in the long grass. Whilst watching them from a distance I could see them keep chasing each other off, so I decided to walk down closer to where they were and crouched down in the long grass with my camera and tripod setup. It didn't take long before the stags were back to chasing each other off and bellowing at each other continuously. I was hoping that they were going to rut so I sat in the same place for a while. I wasn't keeping track of the time, but when I looked at my phone, I worked out that I had spent about 2 hours photographing them although it didn't seem that long. I took a few more photos before deciding to call it a day as it looked like they weren't' going to rut after all and also by this time I had already taken over 800 photos and a load of videos. So I packed up my camera and tripod and started to walk back up the track. I had only walked a few yards along the track when all of a sudden I heard antlers crashing about, I turned around to see the 2 bigger stags fighting, I thought to myself " Well thats just my luck" . I watched them rutting for about 2 minutes before carrying on with my walk back to the car. I didn't decide to film them as I was happy with the footage I had got of two other stags earlier in the day plus the light was fading to.
We got to back to the car park and loaded our gear into the car and set off back home after a very enjoyable long day photographing some lovely wildlife in Richmond Park.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and I hope to do more about what I get up to over the coming months. Please feel free to share the blog with your friends, family etc and leave a comment on what you thought of my blog :)