#292 A deer encounter in the reedbeds

It’s been months and seems like years, since I spent any time out in the field with my camera on a Sunday. With marathon training over (for now) I managed to spend Sunday morning out in the Poole harbour reedbeds with my camera, in search of deer.

To be honest, it’s not too hard to find them. The rut is just about starting now and the stags are calling quite a bit so it’s a case of going to the right area and listening for them.  Getting close to them is another matter though!

The site that I visit has been hit hard by poachers in recent years, so the deer are decidedly ( and understandably!) wary of anything out of the ordinary. I used three different tactics today.

The first was to sit and wait at a distance that the deer felt comfortable with. After a while, they seemed to accept that I was not a threat and I was able to move closer. That worked quite well:

The group checking me out when I first located them..

The group checking me out when I first located them..

 

An hour later, and this female was grazing close to me. She was startled by a passing train, hence her tail flare ( just visible)

An hour later, and this female was grazing close to me. She was startled by a passing train, hence her tail flare ( just visible)

Secondly, I reverted to the old tried and tested method. Camouflage and stalking. Not the easiest of methods when you are in a saltmarsh, but I did get to a reasonable distance of a large herd. The prime stag doesn’t have the biggest antler set, but is a hefty beast so probably wins his battle on brute strength..

Plenty of  solid muscle on this guy.

Plenty of solid muscle on this guy.

 

I thought he was in a wallow here, but seems to be dry so perhaps not.

I thought he was in a wallow here, but seems to be dry so perhaps not.

The final tactic goes against the grain. It’s a case of getting close enough to the animal so that it sees you, then sitting down so you are just about still visible.  Very often, one of the younger stags will come over to have a closer look.  This one walked directly towards me from about 75 yards away, stopping at about 30-40 yards.   There is no danger at all, he’s not about to charge or anything – he is just inquisitive and wants to know what’s going on. Again, it worked rather well..

Getting closer....

Getting closer….

It won’t be quite so long before I’m back out there again. It would be good to see some clashing of antlers as the rut starts in earnest.

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