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Sunday, 10 October 2010

Richmond Park: The start of the rut

**text modified since original posting**

September marks the beginning of the rut among red deer. September is the most active period but the rut carries on throughout the autumn period (in fact, during the period of snowy weather last January I observed rutting behaviour in Richmond Park; this, I believe is quite unusual). Stags compete for females, with the most dominant stags maintaining a harem and fending off challengers. Younger stags, without harems, can still be seen locking antlers as they practice their fighting skills and learn about relative dominance. The bellowing of the stags is one of the most immediately noticeable features of the rut. Non-dominant stags often lurk on the outskirts of a harem and wait for the dominant stag's attention to be diverted before running in and attempting to mate with a hind (female).

Autumn is also the period when fallow deer have their rut. The males (bucks) also compete for the females (does), but the males and females tend to gather in one very large group rather than the females being gathered into separate harems.

The pictures below were taken on the 9th October 2010, which was a rather foggy day hence the light was rather poor.

Red deer stag

Canon EOS 500D with 170-500mm lens at 216mm; 1/125 at f/5.6, ISO 800.

Red deer stag

Canon EOS 500D with 170-500mm lens at 307mm; 1/15 at f/5.6, ISO 1600.

Fallow deer

Canon EOS 500D with 170-500mm lens at 372mm; 1/320 at f/5.6, ISO 800.

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