Last week my good friend and mentor Danny Green was down for Wildlife Photographer of The Year and the Wildphotos event that runs alongside it.
Whilst he was staying with us he was keen to visit Richmond Park, so we were up before dawn and made our way across town in a bid to beat the early morning traffic (not to mention the Congestion Charge).
Once again the conditions were kind to us. The night before had been clear and as the sun rose it revealed a cold frosty morning. Danny’s home turf is Bradgate Park where he has photographed the rut extensively for the last twenty years. This was his first visit to Richmond. His excitement and enthusiasm for somewhere which is pretty local to me made me realise, not for the first time, that this was somewhere right under my nose that I may have taken for granted.
Last autumn I spent a lot of time in Richmond but only came away with a handful of images I was happy with. Keen to make the most of the frosty conditions before it burnt off we marched to the top of the ridge where the dominant stag had kept his harem of hinds the previous autumn and close to the spot where I took my image ‘breath’ (see my autumn gallery: http://www.julescoxphotography.co.uk/pages/wild-britain.php?gall_id=30)….except there was not a deer in sight. Ignoring Mr Green’s good natured jibes (which I could just about make out through his wheezing), we marched back down the hill towards where the deer often held up in the bracken. By this time, I felt very much like the Grand old Duke of York.
This proved to be the right decision as we found a good number of both Red and Fallow Deer in this area. The rut had all but come to an end when we were there, so there was no chance of roaring stags. The golden light and frosty conditions still made for some terrific opportunities though.
Click on thumbnail to enlarge
As the sun continued to rise and the frost disappeared so we turned our attention to what other opportunities might be on offer. The great thing about working with an experienced professional who really knows their stuff is that it expands your horizons to look at things in a new way. I’d often observed the jackdaws feeding off the ticks and lice on the deer the previous autumn and waited until their host had had enough and they had flown before capturing a simple portrait. Watching Danny photographing this spectacle though made me realise I’d missed out on photographing an image that told a far more interesting story.
Not that there weren’t still portrait shots to be had mind, in between the (ahem) ‘re- fuelling’ visits to the legendary Richmond Park burger van.
As walks in the park go, it was thoroughly enjoyable and really inspired me to look at Richmond again next year for the rut and try and do it the justice it deserves. Danny always says to me he doesn’t know how I live in London (usually on a packed tube train full of commuters!). Me too sometimes, Danny. With wildlife like this on my doorstep, I now know the why. Thanks again for opening my eyes. It was a pleasure to have you come and stay and Pressie and I (not to mention Giraffe) look forward to seeing you again next year. Even if you do snore!