Wednesday 20 August 2014

Day 20 - August Challenge 14

Challenge - "Uttlesford wildlife"

Suggested by - Ca via Facebook

Those of you who regularly follow my blog will realise that this challenge would mean I would be able to indulge in the one thing I'm really passionate about - wildlife. Sadly, work has got in the way of this pleasure of late and I haven't been able to go out and spend the time in the field or blog about it. (Wouldn't it be lovely if I could combine work and pleasure here? Where are those commissioning editors who need wildlife shots and articles?!!) ...I digress. So with all the wonderful wildlife there is around in Uttlesford, how could I show it all here in one go? Simply, I can't but I can recommend catching up with The Essex Wildlife Trust which aims to protect all wildlife for the future and also covers the Uttlesford corner of the county.

So here today, I select one particular aspect of local wildlife that is dear to my heart (excuse the pun).

For a number of years now, I have been watching a particular herd of fallow deer not too far from my home. It usually involves arriving at my hide location in the hours of darkness and waiting for the dawn activity to begin. I have watched the coming, and sadly the going of the splendid white buck and usually caught the annual rutting activities. Many hours I have sat silently in the chill of the morning, waiting for some spectacular activity that would allow equally spectacular shots (actually, I'm still waiting for those). As with any wildlife photography, it takes time, patience and dedication to reap the rewards with a stunning photograph, unless being lucky just happens to gift a stunner to someone who may have a camera with them. It is possible to get some cracking shots of deer in the public parkland setting, and yes, I have done that but I'm more interested in the shy and elusive deer. They are much more of a challenge to me.

By following this particular local herd, I have got to know where their deer paths run and where their scrapes and rutting stands are. This means that my hide can stay in the one spot, although I'm seriously contemplating hiring a stonking 600mm for the approaching rutting season, just to gain a bit of distance without encroaching on their territory. It actually won't be very long before rutting kicks off though. Indeed, for the challenge this morning, I was watching as two sub-three-year-old bucks were testing their prowess with their single pronged antlers, in what would probably be their last season with the maternal herd. However, I didn't spy the big daddy of them all who is yet to start rounding up his group of ladies. This year, I am going to start the rut watch much earlier than previous years, to ensure I don't miss a trick. The weather plays a big part with the start, the colder temperatures triggering the annual behaviour. I will endeavour to bring regular updates to this blog, so if you have just the vaguest interest in deer then do drop by and see what might be happening.

This morning, as I sat in the warming morning sunshine, watching the last of the swallows skimming low over the ploughed field, a peaceful calm descended over the little corner where I sat. Apart from the very distant hum of the M11, I could hear nothing else except the sound of the real birds - not even a raucous metal bird punctuated this silence. Just then, a doe, still resplendent in her distinct spotty summer coat and camouflaged against the ploughed field, struck off from the ruminating herd and I took the opportunity to fire off a few shots. Being so close, the sound of my shutter alerted her and she made a comical backwards glance at me before pronking off across to the cover of the nearby woodland.
Just magical!

Today's image and all the other images from my August Challenge will be on display in Design Essentials during September

Tomorrow, Day 21



  1. Look forward to seeing more photographs like this. Fantastic!

    1. Thanks, and so do I! You know wildlife is my passion.
      Keep an eye out over the coming weeks as the rutting season gets under way


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