Thursday, 20 October 2011

Fallow Deer rut

I got to Knole Park about 8am this morning, and walked up towards the house. I met several dozing bucks on the way - almost trod on one of them which gave us both a start, and I spontaneously apologised to him. At the top of the hill as you reach the house is a small circular copse of trees, and as I got close to this I saw that there were four or five bucks lying down around it. I carried on past and then looked back.

You can see how close together they were. Even though nothing was going on, I thought things looked promising and decided to stick around and see what happened.

 After maybe 10 minutes, a couple of the bucks stood up and started walking about, and one of them began to roar. Or bark. The call is a deep, abrupt, thumping grumphing 'humph' sound, and as they call their huge Adam's apples bob madly about.

These two up on the hilltop started looking as though they meant business.

With very little in the way of preamble, they got down to some antler-jousting, while the other bucks all watched with great interest.

Soon there was activity everywhere. All the bucks were roaring, and several had broken off into pairs, sizing each other up before deciding whether or not a fight would be necessary.

These two did the 'parallel walk' down from the hill, coming towards me rather fast. I backed off, not wanting to get in the way (and not wanting them to get too close for my long lens).

Finally they turned and went head to head.

A full-on scrap was soon underway, the top buck forcing his rival downhill (and towards the access road, but I don't think that was deliberate).

Finally the weaker buck accepted he was beaten, and ran away towards the house. The victor turned and headed back up to the hilltop.

Enter a doe, from the south. The only one I saw in the vicinity of the rut, she ran right in among the bucks around the hill...

... and positioned herself at the side of the most successful of the bucks. He continued to pace around and roar, periodically returning to the doe to make sure she was still there, while one by one the other bucks lay down. After 20 minutes of furious activity everything was pretty much back to how it had been at the start.

A distressingly high proportion of my photos were blurry. I'd taken so many though that I did get a few that I was happy with, but I'm seriously thinking about going back tomorrow.

1 comment:

Mike Attwood said...

Impressive start Marianne. Good luck for tommorrow.