Saturday 29th September saw the annual pilgrimage to Richmond Park to photograph Red Deer during the Rutting season. It is a place well worth visiting and as I’ve been asked previously for advise on what I have found I thought I would put a quick guide together on where I go for the Deer Rut and things you might see. All the photographs below were all taken on the 29 September.
This is a Google map of the park and marked are some locations that I will reference below
- The Deer Rut is usually best around the end of September early October. It is advisable to do research on forums as the deer’s behaviour does appear to vary.
- Check the opening times of the park on the website here
- I’ve found that the road entrances are usually open before the stated opening times when I have visited
- Parking I have always parked at the Spankers Hill Wood Car Park shown by P on the map, this gives a 3-4 mile walking route around the numbers 1 to 5 there is also a café there for coffee and breakfast when you have finished.
- Get there early before the rush, as the park will fill up with cyclists, runners and other visitors as the sun rises.
The advantage of arriving in the Park earl is you get a wonderful morning light and you also get mist that forms over area of the park. The following photos were all taken around location 1
As can be seen in the last image, photographers can get in the way of your photos as they chase deer and try to get their own sunrise shots. The other thing you could try is shoot the shooter as in this capture I had.
As you move down the path towards locations 2 & 3 you will should see Deer in this area amongst the ferns, in the open, and in the woods.
You will also need to keep a lookout for them as they do hide as the following two images show. Look for the tell tale signs of the antlers sticking up amongst the ferns.
This particular example was hidden around a kink in a foot path so wasn’t visible until you were on top of him.
The track that links locations 1, 2 & 3 is quite a busy track, almost like a road with runners, cyclists and photographers and plenty of opportunity for pictures where deer can be photographed outside their natural surroundings as in the following.
When you reach location 3 before you reach the road there is a bridleway/stone track that runs parallel with the road that can be followed to location 4. This area when I have been has been where I have found most stags with their collection of hinds. The following photos were all taken while traversing the area from 3, 4 to 5
Once you reach the Pen Ponds at location 5 you can pick up the main track that takes you back to the Car Park where you started. I haven’t normally seen deer around this part but they do appear as can be seen by this stag who was happily grazing and walking around the area.
There is other wildlife around that you will see if you are lucky. One creature which you will soon hear and notice when you leave your car are the parakeets. The park boasts a thriving population of these invaders and you will see them all around the park.
The other thing that you can photograph is planes on approach to Heathrow. If they are approaching from over London and in particular using the South runway (Runway 27L) they can present interesting photo opportunities. It also appears that this is about the location where the planes lower their undercarriage so many interesting shots can be seen.
Back to the Deer, a word of warning is to not be complacent and treat them with caution, they have other things on their mind at this time of year. Below is a bit of video I shot back in 2015 that shows a Red Deer stag who saw a competitor come near, he then went from a slow walk to a full run quiet quickly and covered the ground quicker than a human could. There are plenty of other videos on YouTube that shows incidents with Red Deer stags.
And finally remember to give the deer space as the amount of photographers is getting out of control during the rutting season. Here is an image I took that shows the problem, although I have seen pictures of far worse.