To Autumn – season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

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Over the last three months I have continued to follow the lives of my local Roe population close to where I live in East Sussex.

The images in this blog were taken over a three month period at various local sites where I have obtained permissions.

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I hadn’t really spent much time with the Roe in autumn before. At this time of year wildlife photographers, myself included, tend to turn their attention to the annual Red  and fallow deer rut. I’m so glad I chose to follow my own path this year and continue with my work with the Roe. I feel the images in this blog are amongst my strongest work to date.

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It’s always great when you find a new site and in the early part of the autumn I found a couple of locations not that far from home that afforded me some lovely opportunities to get to know three new families of roe deer.

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 It’s always good as a photographer to try to challenge yourself. The image below, taken in early autumn, was shot at dusk, at another new site, long after the light had gone. It gave me the opportunity to get creative, dialling down the white balance in camera for a cool blue to create a sense of drama and mood. I like the end result. I’m in a great position with my photography that I only have to please myself these days. It would be a technique I would return to later in the autumn.

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I also started to experiment more with photographing the deer small in the frame.

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A lot of the pleasure of spending time with one species is getting to know their habits intimately. One thing I noticed in particular is how the lives of Roe deer and foxes are inextricably interlinked.

The Red fox is the mortal enemy of the Roe deer. A fox will take a young fawn. Even at a few months old the mother is wise enough to remain wary and protective of her kid.

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The fox is always on the look out nonetheless, skulking in the shadows.

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During the early part of the autumn a false rut takes place. It is thought to be brought on because young bucks start to reach sexual maturity at this time of year.

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I was lucky enough to witness the clash of antlers between competing males during this time, set against a backdrop of autumn colour.

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It was also nice to get some behavioural shots also, such as this next image of a mature Roe buck grazing in a traditional English hay meadow.

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As the season progressed, I was hoping to get some shots of deer in the mist. It wasn’t easy but I did get the right conditions I was looking for on a couple of occasions.

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The next couple of shots are amongst my favourite from my autumn photography. The fire in the mist in the next shot lasted only a few seconds. It was very magical.

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It was a very cold morning and as the mist started to burn off, I could see the breath of the buck as it exhaled highlighted against the rising sun.

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As the season continued to advance, it was magical to watch as the leaves started to turn, revealing their colours in all their autumn splendour.

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By this time the colours on the trees had turned to a deep gold. I wanted to make the most of this vibrant palette, shooting the deer small in a frame against it. The frost and hint of mist were the icing on the cake in the next couple of images.

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At this time of year the bucks drop their antlers. The youngsters drop their antlers first. Mature bucks may not drop their antlers until as late as mid December.

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Another technique I had some fun with this autumn was using a slow shutter speed to convey movement as the deer leap and run. The deer are actually pretty used to me now so they tend not to be bothered by me. I was therefore only really able to try the technique if there were dog walkers around to be honest. It was great fun though when I did get the opportunity.

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I also found another site with a tunnel of trees. I could see the potential of the shot, making for a graphic composition so set up a hide there. Over a period of a month and many hours sitting patiently waiting, I was able to get some images I was pleased with.

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The deer were also not the only animals to enter the frame, the fox was never far behind as always.

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Towards the end of November it was starting to get a lot colder and there was a decided nip in the air. It made for some beautiful, frosty mornings.

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The next set of images form part of a memorable encounter with the deer.  I had seven Roe run towards me across the filed chasing one another until they were stood just a matter of yards from me, surrounding me. Their curiosity seemed to get the better of them and I spent a magical 10 minutes photographing them as they promenaded round me.

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The deer weren’t the only ones getting used to the change in temperature. I came across this bold fox mousing in one of the neighbouring fields.

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One of the family of deer I photograph live in the fields surrounding an old farm. It makes for a great backdrop for images. Here an adult female doe is walking past an old disused milking shed.

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By mid December, the leaves had all but fallen, and the frosts were becoming harder, a sure sign heralding in the start of winter.

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Roe deer are for the most part of the year solitary animals, it’s one of the things that mark them out from other species of deer. It’s one of the aspects that I am particularly drawn to I think.

At this time of year though they start to group up. I counted nine deer in this particular field.

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The temperature that morning was – 4 degrees and you could even see the frost on the back of the deer. I was starting to feel a lot like winter.

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This last shot is of a young Roe buck pronging in the frost. He reminds me of my own little one, excited about Christmas. This blog is for him.

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I hope you have enjoyed looking at these images as much as I enjoyed making them. I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who follows my work for your encouragement an support and to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and joyful New Year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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