Richmond Park Red Deer

September 25, 2010 Comments Off on Richmond Park Red Deer

I do like to take opportunities which come along to allow me to have a couple of hours photography in places I don’t usually get to.  This week I was invited to speak at a conference being held at the Twickenham Rugby Ground in London. So the choice was a few shots of the ground, whist being maintained – not too spectacular, or nip over the river to Richmond and see if there was any action in the park.  It’s getting pretty close to red deer rutting season, so there was really no contest. Richmond Park it was.

Packing a business suit and a camouflage suit for the same trip is a little strange, but lets skip over that one. I arrived without incident at Twickenham and did my duty on the first day of the conference, but took an early exit from the evening meal and headed for an early night.  The alarm woke me at 5:00am, dawn wasn’t until 6:45am but I wanted to ensure I could find the deer before dawn.  The gates don’t open to vehicles until 7:00am, but pedestrians can gain access.  The plan was to walk in through a number of gates until I found a suitable herd close by. The park is 13 miles round, so it could actually prove a long job. I needed a bit of luck.

By 5:30am I was dressed and heading for the hotel exit. I think the staff had a little giggle as I strode out, dressed head to foot in woodland-pattern camo and shouldering a 500mm lens and tripod.  Never mind, on with the job. At the Richmond gate I parked up and walked into through the iron gates. Still dark, the mist was down which was exactly the conditions I wanted, but no deer close to the gate. A quick run back to the car an on towards the Sheen Gate. The same process, a quick walk in, 10 minutes looking round with no result so back out to the car. At the Roehampton gate I caught my first misty view of a few red deer.

As the light began to grow I found I was on the rugby pitch surrounded by a herd of red deer around 50 to 60 strong with two or three large stags in attendance. Unfortunately no real rutting activity yet. It maybe a couple of weeks early.   As dawn broke the gates opened and traffic started to pour through the gates. Londoners on the way to work, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists streamed through the gates.  The deer started to head off the open playing fields and wandered off towards the woodlands.  Time to move and find a concealed position and wait for the dee to come to me.

I checked the direction of the wind, watched where the deer were heading and ran back to the car. Joining the queues of traffic to enter the park and then heading for the car park at Pen Ponds I managed to skirt round the main herd. The sun was now up and burning off the mist quite well. The dog walkers were moving the deer along nicely.  I spotted three large stages heading for a wooded drinking pond and quickly found my place with a good view. Throwing a small skrim net over me and the camera I settled down to wait.  The sun was now streaming in through the low branches of the trees, lighting the bracken. The three stags walked in through the trees straight into the golden light.  The could sense something was not quite right, something or someone was there, but they couldn’t work out what it was.  They remained on the early morning light for a good 10 minutes. Here is the best of the images.

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