Yesterday I decided to try and photograph something that I never really fancied doing before - the Autumn Deer Rut.
Anyone who has watched Autumn Watch for any period of time will have seen countless hours of coverage of Stags on the island of Rum, battling for control of the hinds - fascinating viewing, but not as fascinating after 4 straight years on the trot.
The forums are awash with images of deer at the moment, and that is what has put me off - until now.
Some of the images being produced are, I have to admit, super.
So, with that goal in mind I watched the weather all week and with Friday off of work, I got up at 4.30 and drove to Bradgate.
Now, that's a 3 hour drive for me, and looking out of the window as I type this, I wish I'd gone today. The reason - the light. Each morning has been spectacular this week - cold, crisp and we even had our first frost on Thursday.
Would that repeat itself on Friday for me - of course not.......
I have to say though, my first experience of the rut, at close quarters was memorable.
I arrived slightly late (after attending to and reporting to the police the aftermath of a road accident - another story), and made my way into the park.
Bradgate is huge, but I followed the roars from the Stags.
As I've said above, the light was poor - no golden glow for me I'm afraid, but watching this pair of Fallow Deer battling away more than made up for it.
They fought for a good 10 minutes, butting, charging and looking for weaknesses in each others defences until finally, one broke away and ran for the shelter of the stream.
He stood and allowed me to approach quite closely and take this shot as he got his breath and took a drink.
Knackered and in need of drink !
I then took a walk to another section of the park where a mature Red had his hareem under close control. He's no bellowing here, just yawning.....
Red Deer yawning
Caring for one of his hinds
He then made his way over to one of the hinds to see if she was ready for mating - a gentle lick, but she didn't get up...
Other than having to walk quite a lot, it's not especially challenging work, so I'll have another go soon for some of those golden shots -I don't have much time before the rut will be over for another year though, so looking at the forecast, maybe I'll try tomorrow !