Fallow deer resting
It's been incredibly warm for late September/early October - far too warm for much activity in the daytime. This is the time of year when photographers flock to the park to take images of the rut, pictures of stags locking horns. The park echoes to the sound of belling stags trying to impress as many does as possible with a series of deep bellows and rapid grunts, their breath turning to vapour in the cool autumn air. This week the deer are in heat with temperatures to match. Most of the 'action' happens between dusk and dawn but in a normal year, when the weather is cooler, there's still a chance to watch stags lock antlers during the morning and late afternoon, but this year the heat has taken its toll and the deer are lethargic.
Young fallow deer keeps an eye on me
The female deer still have young with them and are very protective at the moment. What with the stags in rut and the does guarding their young now is not the time to get too close to the herds nor to allow dogs to 'worry' the wild deer. In spite of notices posted in many places in the park requesting dog owners to keep their dogs on leads for the time being, I saw only one dog owner abiding by the rules while I was there, putting the deer's welfare before their own gratification. No wonder there have been incidents of stags attacking humans this week.
Young fallow deer heads towards his mother
Hugging the shade
Albino fallow deer
Red deer proclaiming his prowess
This stag had 'acquired' a good sized harem but was still on the lookout for any stray does he could round up. Earlier I had come across a stag who'd obviously had a rough night and was recovering on his own in the shade. He look very dejected and may well have sustained some injuries over and above the indignity of defeat by a stronger rival.
Fallow doe heading for her herd
Time to make a run for it
You're going the wrong way!
Tender moment between doe and her youngster
I can't believe you're still hungry
Elsewhere in park . . .
Moorhen feeding her chick