Whilst my end-of-summer-season trip to West Cork was rather short this week, it has the advantage that it has got me back home at just the right time. There is also the added bonus that the weather is currently far better here in the east than it is in the rather wet west, so for once, I'm not too sad to have left West Cork behind, for now!
And the right time? It is the time of the annual rut of course, which means 'the battle is on' for these two lovelies and indeed, the rest of the Fallow (and other) deer country-wide. It also means that just as I did last year, I will be out photographing the happenings. So this morning, I was out on a recce, accompanied by my very well behaved photographers assistant (killing two birds with one stone as they might say) She, the assistant, will sit quietly by my side, alerting me to new sounds with the pricking of her ears but also knows when to stay quiet, just as she did when we were watching this small herd of fallow deer browsing in the open, in the warmth of the lunch-time sun today.
Sadly, on the return walk, she let me down badly. Not wanting to be pulled over, I had let her off the lead for a few moments whilst I negotiated a particularly muddy section of track. She dutifully paddled alongside me all the way but the moment we hit the dry ground, it was if the elastic band that was wound inside her had twanged. She was off on some scent and no amount of whistling or encouragement was to bring her back onto the straight and narrow.
That's how long it was before an exhausted and exceedingly muddy mutt arrived back at the car, where I had settled down to wait, flicking through the mornings collection of pictures (several times), knowing that she would return in her own sweet time. Needless to say she is currently in the doghouse and certainly won't be assisting me tomorrow morning when I go off very early to catch the rut in action. (Actually, she never is allowed on those trips anyway)
Yep, for the next few days, it will be early starts, bouts of cramp, needing the loo, cold extremities etc, all in the hope of catching some stunning shots of the annual deer rut.
The battle is on!
All this morning gave me was one proking doe, two barking Muntjacs and three running Fallows.
Clearly our local fallow deer herd are camera shy!
I did manage to grab a recording of the Muntjacs though and if you haven't heard them before, take a listen. These two were only a few feet behind where I was sitting and for their diminutive size, they can really pack a punch volume-wise!
Zero, zilch, nothing, not one!
No deer at least, on a windy damp morning when the patter of raindrops on the leaf canopy above me, increased proportionally with the rising light levels. Thankfully it didn't come to much. However, it was great to listen to the last few hoots of a retiring tawny before the local cockerel took over. The wren, the woodpecker, crows, pheasants and of course, the wood pigeons, all joined in on the morning wake-up call, and those Muntjac were at it again! Coming to the conclusion, after last year too, that our Fallow deer rut peaks earlier than the mid-October time that is usually stated.