Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Nut in a Rut...

It's that time of year again, when the Fallow Deer begin to rut. Not wishing to miss out on this fabulous spectacle, I headed off to the forest in search of these elusive, beautiful creatures.

I walked the woods for hours before a head poked up from some bracken. Believing she was invisible just so long as she remained still, she was a little surprised when I took her photograph.

It seemed I wasn't as dangerous as I first appeared.

Some inquisitive faces peered from around a tree, interested to see this stranger in their woods.

The juvenile bucks were more bold...

...not as afraid to satisfy their curiosity.

A young Stag turned up. This was his harem and they rallied to attention, taking his lead and following him deeper into the sanctuary of the denser woodland.

After much posturing, and careful studying, I was deemed 'mostly harmless'.

The Does and the young bucks were allowed to return to the outskirts of the trees where the stranger lurked, in order to feast on the acorns that scattered the forest floor.

Eventually they relaxed, realising that I meant no harm. I became the new entertainment to sit and watch.

These were the smaller harems ruled by the lower ranking Stags. To find the large mature Stags I would have to venture into the depths of the dark woods where sunbeams were the only source of light.

After some time a black Stag emerged from the shadows. It appeared to be alone, foraging for greens in the pools of sun between the trees. In a blink of an eye it was gone.

As the sun dipped, I crossed the cold shade of a steep sided valley, rising to summit some open ground alongside a quarry. The noise of the machinery in the distance afforded me some cover for my heavy footsteps as I crept to observe another Stag in the distance.

He looked content grazing with his hard won harem. Feeling slightly vulnerable out on the open ground, I backed away from this powerful animal, as they can be quite aggressive during the rutting season. Retreating to what I thought would be the refuge of a shady, and now increasingly dark deciduous wood, I soon found myself in a battleground. A stag crashed through the bracken bellowing loudly, while a short way off but just out of sight, the sound of antlers clashing together only sought to reinforce the thought that I was 'definitely in the wrong place'!!!

I backed away, but the stag made it clear that he was not happy. Hastily I crashed my way through the tangle of undergrowth along the ill defined narrow deer paths trying to exit the area where it now became apparent that the rutting platforms lay. The stag shadowed me at a distance always seeking the higher ground. I tried to keep calm. "Stags are no more dangerous than, say a bull" I thought to myself. "Well maybe a bull that can run 30mph, jump over 10 feet, and has a rack full of butchers knives on its head"... I didn't feel comforted. Eventually I reached the edge of the woods. The Stag gave me a 'don't come back' glare as it turned back. Phew!

Out on the heath it quickly became dark. With my camera on a tripod, I entertained myself taking some long exposure pictures in the dark.

I cold hear the rutting bellows of stags in the darkness, and soon came to realise that they were getting closer. In fact they were all around me. Thankful for my new torch, I scoured the darkness, nothing to be seen. I was safe enough, they wouldn't be interested in me, would they? It was then that it occurred to me that I was dressed in brown camo, making my way through the heather, holding an open tripod above my head... looking to all the world like a rival Stag....Aaargh!

There was only one course of action in a situation such as this. Run away like a little girl, my torch windmilling wildly... Run away, run away!!!!

1 comment:

Madwag said...

love the torch pic... brilliant! good post :O)