1 Jun 2015

Hatch Park Deer

A little known gem of a private estate with limited public access local to me, is home to a large herd of Fallow Deer. Known as Hatch Park and belonging to Lady Brabourne and part of the large estate.  One summer evening my camera club organised a trip to this park. The light was fantastic and warm too, with Dragonflies and other insects very active. The park has open grazing areas surrounded by dense Bracken with pathways through. Very old Oaks, Horse Chesnut etc bring height and added protection to wildlife. Their rustic, weathered and creepy low branches spread out low adding to the imagination of mystical creatures moving around and following you throughout the park. Out in the open Rabbits pop up and then hide again watching your every move.

The main herd normally keep well away from the public area, but those that are braver (but not anywhere near tame) venture to the outer edges of the Bracken. The closest they tolerate you is about 300ft as the photo below demonstrates.

First sighting

The following two are of a larger female that may be a Red Deer due to the size and colouring. Again these show how timid they are with it holding close to the undergrowth and showing the low lying branches of an old Oak tree mentioned above. 

After these I headed with the others onto a pathway leading into the bracken. After several hundred yards it opens out with the land falling down away from you. This provides the first sighting of the Stately home in the mid distance. In the opening area adjacent to the Bracken which flows down from the house are a large herd with several young stags in prime condition with weapons of choice in full development.

A public footpath heads up along the perimeter of the fields. Small trees and odd pockets of Bracken line this path allowing me with some careful stalking technique to set up my tripod and camera.

A lone Stag stands on his own, somehow sensing my location too. The Sun is very low now and entering the "Golden Hour", to which brings a warm glow to the red/brown fur coat. Just to the right of him are two more pairs of young Stags that also spot me somehow. This shows how very alert they are and how careful you have to be to get anywhere near them. The second of the two pairs brings some fun element with them being so close as to appear to be a two headed Stag!

Then further along again some females hold together with a young Stag for security. 

A solo Stag with early development of Antlers showing, moves closer to me by some distance to the others. I guess being more inquisitive.

Then in the final photo, the three decide they are not brave enough and make a run further away from what they perceive to be danger. With this one I wanted to experiment again and have processed it in monochrome. As done in a previous blog on Elmley with a Redshank, I could see the benefit of showing how to predators, the Deer's colouring enables them to blend into the surrounding area. 

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