A couple of weekends ago, I went back to Richmond Park to see the deer rut. It was my aim this time to show Kelly some rutting stags and, I'm glad to say, the stags were obliging.
I decided I would get up very early and get to the park for sunrise, which was about 7.30 am on that particular day, hoping I'd get a nice, atmospheric, misty shot of a stag silhouetted against the rising sun. What I actually got was bad light and clouds. Still, I did manage to watch a Green Woodpecker flying around for a bit. I couldn't really get a decent shot of it, owing to the distance and the bad light, but I quite like the way this shot came out.
After locking up my bike, I was immediately greeted with the familiar roar of a dominant stag, this one with a group of hinds to watch over.
There was a lot of work to be done by the dominant stag, as the hinds were attracting a lot of other stags attentions. Mind you, I don't think the following guy posed much of a challenge to him though.
Perhaps this guy, although I think he might stand a better chance in a few more years. He did give me a bit of a fright though when he popped he head up right next to me. I certainly wasn't about to fight him!
There was the usual group of large stags and hinds a short walk from Pembroke Lodge, with a number of very large and fairly evenly matched stags keeping each other at bay.
Again, the apparent lack of knowledge some people have about dangerous these creatures can potentially be was all too obvious. The guy in the photo below didn't have his dog on a lead and didn't slow his walk in the slightest, even when faced with a stag on the footpath ahead of him. Fortunately (for him...) the stag made a dash for it into the bracken.
I met Kelly at Pembroke Lodge and we joined the Friends of Richmond Park for a deer talk by Chris Howard of the British Deer Society, followed by a led walk around the park. It was an interesting talk and a nice excuse to go inside, warm up and have a cup of tea.
It was on this walk where Kelly got to see two very evenly matched stags rutting. The one of the right of the next photo had a harem of about six hinds and the other stag brazenly walked over to see if he could make them his.
They were fighting for about 15 minutes which, to my knowledge, is quite a long time, proving how evenly matched they were.
Eventually, the challenger turned and fled, with the victor hot on his heels.
We continued on our walk and saw lots of other red deer stags watching over various groups of hinds but no other action apart from the usual roaring.
There was a large group of Fallow deer as well but, as their rut had not started yet, males and females seemed content to hang around together.
Back at the spot near Pembroke Lodge, the large stags continued to roar to each other and to any hinds who were within ear shot.
On our way back to the park gate, we came across two hinds who were on their own; always a little disconcerting as I half expected to turn around to find myself face to face with their stag. Fortunately this was not the case this time.
And finally, just to add a balance (well, sort of...), here's one of the parks resident Ring-necked Parakeets. He and his friends were providing an accompaniment to the stags soundtrack.