Knowing that yesterday was to be the last sunny day for a while, we managed to fit two walks in. In the afternoon we went to Petworth, a national trust property whose 700 acre deer park (landscaped by Capability Brown and painted by Turner) host the largest herd of fallow deer in England. The herd is currently around 900 strong and has been there for 500 years; Henry VIII is said to have hunted here. It’s a stunning, open landscape with ancient trees and great fungi in the autumn. I don’t normally get great photos of the deer as I don’t have the telephoto kit and the deer move off as soon as you get anywhere near them. I’m quite pleased with these though, particularly the bucks.
By moving slowly and keeping a tree between it and me, I managed to sneak a bit closer to a magnificent white buck.
After a few photos he ambled off, passing close to another buck lying concealed in the long grass.
Startled by a dog, the white buck suddenly doubled back and ran almost headlong into the buck lying down. The other one must have taken this as a challenge or attack, as he leapt up and charged the white buck. The sound of their clashing antlers was pretty amazing.
It didn’t last long – about 30 seconds – and afterwards they both seemed a bit sheepish.
The white buck walked off trying to look unhurried and terribly casual 😉 and the other buck followed, but not too quickly (wouldn’t want to actually catch him up and have another fight, after all). It’s the start of the rut now so hormones and tempers are running high, but the rut is pretty ritualistic – there’s lots of noise, sizing each other up, parallel walking to gauge how tough you both are, that sort of thing. This was more of a ‘one bloke stumbles into another bloke in a pub and spills his pint’ kind of thing. The darker buck seems to have put the white buck in his place and is content to leave it at that. 🙂