Monday, 18 October 2010
Its Mid October, 6am in the morning and the temperature has dropped to 3degrees Centigrade. MrShutterbug is wondering just why he did not bring his gloves for this morning’s photo shoot.
As many MrShutterbug Wildlife Photography Fans will have noticed over the past few weekends I have been getting up early to witness what I consider to be a wonder of British Wildlife. The annual deer rut.
October in the UK sees the start of the rutting season for red deer. From October until early November strange groaning and belching sounds will echo from clearings in the woods and parks. The clash of antlers can be heard as males show off their virility to potential mates and, like gladiators entering an arena, they parade around showing off their armory of antlers, Quite a sight to behold. The rut is a period when the biggest and strongest male (stag) rounds up a group of females (hinds) for mating. Of course every other male deer wants to do the same, but there's only so many females to go around. And this is where testosterone fuelled males battle for the prize of harem of females.
In order to maintain control over a group of females the stag must constantly drive away rivals. The stag announces his superiority over other males by constantly bellowing out an echoing roar, which sounds something like a cross between a chainsaw and a burp. Its a very loud sound which makes you wonder if you really do want to get any closer with all these antlers around.
Sometimes bellowing is not enough, and when contenders approach the females they need to be seen off. Occasionally fights between males can break out, and this can lead to some serious clashing of those magnificent antlers. This from my own standpoint is usually spectacular but very short lived.
Red deer are our largest native land mammals. They can weigh up to 190kg. In fact they're one of only two native species of deer in the UK, the other being the Roe deer.
If you go to watch the rutting deer make sure you keep at a safe distance. You definitely DON'T want to get between a stag and his females. Getting charged by an angry stag can be bad for your health. Those antlers are sharp! Just see the pictures from my last two weekends
The best time to catch the rut is very early in the morning (dawn) (hence my recent early rising weekends) or dusk
For all those MrShutterbug Wildlife Fans who would like to witness this yearly event here is a list of local areas where you may be able to see this magnificent Wildlife spectacle.
But Hurry only a few weeks left to enjoy this annual spectacle.
The Highlands, Perthshire, Scotland.
Exmoor National Park
Lyme Park, Cheshire.
Galloway Forest Park, Scotland.
The Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire.
Explore forests such as Epping, Thetford, Forest of Dean.
Parkland herds Richmond Park, Bushy Park, Surrey.
Woburn Abbey Bedfordshire.
Calke Abbey, Ticknall, Derbyshire.
Petworth House and Park, West Sussex.
Knole Park Sevenoaks, Kent.
Windsor Great Park and Windsor Forrest Berkshire.
National trust properties such as:-
Belton House in Derbyshire
Castle Drogo in Devon
Dunham Massey in Cheshire