|07.27h. 1/50 sec. f 6.3. 800 ISO @400mm|
Having been away in Ireland for a couple of weeks, I was interested to see how the Fallow deer rut had progressed in that time. Thankfully, with sunrise coming a little later now, I was afforded a few extra minutes in bed over my last rut visit. However, a clear moonlit morning also means chilly and it certainly was that. It took over an hour for me to warm up when I got home, but the chill was worth seeing some lovely does.
According to my favourite wildlife expert, Simon King, the Fallow deer rut peaks around the 20th October, so with that, I thought I might still be in with a chance of seeing the big boy at work. So fleeced; double-fleeced and camou-net-curtained, I once again sat and waited for the nocturnal greys to turn to colour. Sure enough, a stream of deer trickled out from the woodland behind me, and into the field. A few metres to my right it was a stream of white deer that shimmered in the half-light. A few metres to my left, a stream of menil deer camouflaged against the hedge line. They all wandered in front of me before jumping around as if troubled by a terrible itch. I had never seen them so frisky. Two deer even ran a circuit of the field, their little hooves stomping as they raced by, their heavy breathing clearly audible. Could this behaviour mean they were anticipating a visit by the big boy himself?
The light was getting better and I was able to shift my ISO as I waited for his arrival.
Not a bellow.
Not a glimpse.
In fact, not one mature buck put in an appearance.
This must surely signal that the rut is over for this year and the apparent jumping for joy by the does is due to them losing the bucks (having done what they needed to of course).
So it seems as though our Fallow deer peaked early and my gotcha sighting of them back in the middle of September was it for this year. I'm so glad I started this rut-watch early or I would have missed all the excitement. So, now I know how to plan for next year.
Low light conditions are difficult at that time in the morning but that early light coupled with the dew-dropped new crop shoots added beautifully to the atmosphere.
I think it was worth getting cold for.