The weather was forecast to be generally bright and warm, with an outside chance of showers, so outside I went, to visit Woburn Park and see what I could capture of the deer there at the time of the annual rutting. Since it was decidedly nippy when I set off I was wearing a Guernsey pullover, it was not long before it was being worn tied first around my waist and later, more practically around my neck! Also I could have forsaken one camera and allowed myself only two, but I suppose I could do with the extra exercise, so perhaps the added burden was no bad thing.
The early part of the visit was in an almost cloudless sky, but clouds rolled in and on occasion even seemed to threaten rain, but it brightened again, but with somewhat milky sunshine. When having walked through the woods and passed the lake, I found that the verdant landscape was entirely bereft of deer, and speaking to one of the gardeners I learned they were all over the far side. That turned out to partly true, as some walkers ahead of me had spotted a stag beyond the wire, so I did manage a few shots before walking across the vast empty grassy area and came in sight of the private stone bridge, that led to the main House, where beyond another lake the main gathering of deer was at the water’s edge. At this point the right of way takes to the road, and back into woodland and rolling hillocks interspersed by smaller lakes, and here were several more lone males, but these seemed to be of an older generation.
They seemed very laid back; several were very relaxed about the rutting game, apparently moved to give the occasional deep-throated bellow, but had resigned themselves to doing this occasionally, very half-heartedly and whilst lying down; leaving the field free to the energetic young bucks! One had taken to the high ground close to the main House, and having made his stance and bellowed in the direction of the House, then strolled down to inspect the crowd. Around this time I also spotted other stags strutting their stuff and chasing the occasional does, and just asserting themselves. I saw just one encounter between two bucks, but sadly it took place partly shielded by one of the many wooden structures built to protect young saplings. On a few occasions I spotted one male threatening another, but the second male gave way each time, perhaps I was too early, that for now each male was testing others, and the real trials of strength would come later.
I had walked beyond the main herds, so began to head back and before leaving took a few pictures of the last roses and the lowering light filtering through the leaves that were just changing through their rainbow colours in the twilight of summer, to the golds and browns of autumn. I had spent a very pleasant afternoon and felt reasonably satisfied I had captured something of worth.