Winter Wonderland Part #2 - Aaron Northcott

Winter Wonderland Part #2

A recent trip to photograph the resident Red Deer and Fallow Deer of Richmond Park resulted in some particularly spectacular images - from incredible sunrises over frost-carpeted meadows to Stags nibbling on the first signs of spring.

If you missed Part #1 of Winter Wonderland, catch up by clicking here.

The Standoff

After my time spent with the initial group of Red Deer in the meadow, I headed deeper into the woodland to look for some of the larger Stags. My clothes were now endorned with glitter-like flecks of ice that had clung to the material as I made my way through the chest-deep grass and reeds, until I broke the edge of the woodland and entered an entirely different habitat.

The long grass gave way to fallen branches and much shorter vegetation, as gnarled old Oak trees towered overhead - the unusual (and not at all elegant) call of Ring Necked Parakeets could be heard calling from the treetops, squawking as they flew above the trees in two's and three's.

Ring Necked Parakeets are the only species of Parrot that are entirely naturalised in Britain. They are now permanent residents and they number over 40,000 - having become a common sight (and sound!) in many places across the UK.

The Joker
A Performing Parakeet

After considerable time treading carefully through the wooded area, no more Deer had been seen so I broke the tree-line again and headed out into another large expanse of tough yellow grass and brown ferns.

The Sun was now much higher in the sky, but there was still a bite to the air and frost remained even in the sunlit areas.

  • The Stonechat
  • Colours of Winter
  • An Ambitious Woodpecker

A herd of almost 40 Red Deer were headed in our direction, so I crouched down low with my camera poised amongst the ferns and waited for them to move closer. 

After perhaps 10 minutes I found myself sat surrounded by deer; there were a lot of females in the herd and numerous younger individuals, presumably last year's fawns. Young males had spindly antlers growing from their skulls in odd shapes and directions, but there were also 6 or 7 big Stags with imposing headpieces that I estimate must have been at least 1.5m across, perfectly symmetrical and adorned with dried grass and other vegetation.

I'd been sat in the same position capturing countless images for almost an hour, when one of the larger males started to pay 'a little too much attention' to me.

If you ever come face-to-face with a Stag (or any other deer) you may experience something called the 'Head Bob'. It is often thought that this is the deer trying to assess whether you are a threat, by viewing you from different angles and both eyes . This behaviour often begins with the deer bowing it's head as though it is about to resume feeding, and then suddenly raising it's head once again to see if you're moving. The bowing up and down can then become more vigorous and shallow as the behaviour continues and the deer tries to better distinguish your form and intent. If you are caught moving, it may indicate to the deer whether you are indeed a threat. In either case, the best thing to do initially is freeze and wait for the head bobbing behaviour to stop.

So I stood, no more than 10m away from the magnificent Stag and waited for the head bobbing to stop; which normally means you can then relax. It didn't stop. Instead, the Stag continued rocking it's head (and impressive antlers) up and down and turned it's body to face me.

The imposing Stag then took a few meaningful steps towards me, and I took this as my cue to leave. I was there to observe and photograph these magnificent animals, and the last thing would want to do is cause them any distress (or get myself into danger).

The Stag was clear that I was no longer welcome, and I carefully moved backwards until I was a safe distance to turnaround and continute my time in Richmond.

See more of my wildlife imagery by clicking here. You can also keep up with all of my adventures and latest photographs by following my on Twitter and Facebook

If you'd like to see more photography of the Red Deer and other Winter Wildlife be sure to check out the latest collection:

Deer from Dusk to Dawn

Deer in Detail

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