Autumn Song

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I devoted the early part of the autumn to working on the annual deer rut in London’s Royal Parks.  The rut is one of the British Isles’ most spectacular wildlife watching experiences. Although I had spent the odd day here and there covering  it in previous years, this year I decided to give it a proper go. Which meant  seeing it through from start to finish.

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The rut down south seemed to start very early this year. By mid September it was already in full swing with the Red deer stags finding their voice. I was also privileged to see  some full blooded battles between rival stags during this early part of the rut.

The unseasonally warm weather at the end of September also  resulted in some suitably atmospheric,  misty early morning conditions . Even better for the most part during this period I seemed to have the park to myself.

I love the dew covered spider’s web in this next image. For me it just lifts the scene a little, singing Autumn.

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The following image was one of my favourite moments from the rut  as this young stag emerged from the mist. He paused  for a moment in front of me, hoof raised before making off. No doubt he was probably as surprised to see me as I was him. It was a very special moment and one that I will probably never forget.

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One of the great things about devoting so much time to the project was it gave me an opportunity to work out the light properly. I just love shooting into the light. Exposing for it with the misty conditions wasn’t easy though.

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Click on image to enlarge

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It wasn’t all golden light though. On the morning I took this next shot the light was more subdued and the mist so thick I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face. As it lifted for a moment though, I could just about make out these three hinds standing together.

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It wasn’t until much later in the project, in late October, that it started to get properly cold. The next couple of images come from one of my last mornings on the project. One of the rare occasions the temperature dropped enough for a bit of frost and breath. The icing on the cake really.

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As the season advanced so the autumn colours also really started to come out. This next stag really seemed to like having his photograph taken. He stood there happily posing proudly in the bracken for me for at least an hour.

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The next image is another of my own personal favourites  from the project. Again backlit but this time taken in the evening, at last light. I love the midges dancing around the stag as he bellows away. The action always seemed to start again just as the sun started to dip behind the trees and the park about to close.

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The next  two shots were taken right at the start of the project in mid September . The light was perhaps the best at this time that I had during the entire project.

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Click on image to enlarge

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A lot of sensationalist headlines were written in the National press about the Beast of Bushy Park this year. I saw only one incident myself involving this particular stag during all the time I spent there. That said, it was enough, leaving a member of the public bloodied and bruised by the encounter. To be frank though it was difficult to be entirely sympathetic, given that it resulted from the unfortunate individual in question getting far too close to the stag for an image on his camera phone. Not the brightest idea when your subject is a sexually frustrated big animal, with sharp antlers charged full of testosterone. The incident  was all the more unbelievable given that it took place right next to one of the warning signs put up by the Royal Parks. By contrast the biggest hazard I encountered  was navigating the dog excrement exiting  the car after arriving in the car park. Not something I was always entirely successful at doing!

Back to more pleasant subjects. This last image was taken in some very nice red light one evening. It was the only occasion I got these conditions.

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I had a thoroughly enjoyable time working on the rut this year. For more images check out my gallery in Google + . I  also met some great people along the way, both photographers and members of the public. A big shout out to Matt, Austin and Craig in particular.

 

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7 Responses to Autumn Song

  1. Peter Maris says:

    Nice set of images. You had some great light, something I missed during the rut here in the Netherlands.

  2. Sweeeet shots dude! Love the bellowing stag with its body concealed by bracken!

    • jcoxfoto says:

      Cheers Bertie. Hope they were worth the wait :)

      You’re getting dangerously good yourself. Big things ahead for you mate I reckon ;)

  3. Matt Preece says:

    Great blog post mate – It’s almost like I was there, hehe. Really excellent shots – You’ve captured the mood and light of those misty mornings beautifully and exactly how I remember them. Some of the best rut shots this year IMO…
    … and thanks for the mention :)

  4. Andy Astbury says:

    The Long Dutchman was right – the rut has been very kind Jules – what a superb collection of images, nice.

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