The Rut of the Reds (Cervus elaphus)

Red deer are our largest mammal in the UK.  Stags weigh anything from 90 – 190kg with females 63 – 120kg. The number of branches on antlers increases with age. Up to 16 points in native animals – who can live typically 18 years.

DSED1606The breeding season, or rut, occurs from the end of September through to November.  Stags return to the hinds home range and compete for access to hinds by engaging in elaborate displays of dominance, including roaring, parallel walks and fighting.  Serious injury and death can result but fighting only occurs between stags of similar size that can not assess dominance by any of the other means.  The dominant stag then ensures exclusive mating with the hinds.

DSED6903Only stags over 5 years old tend to achieve mating despite being sexually mature much earlier (before their 2nd birthday in productive woodland populations).  In woodland populations hinds over a year old give birth to a single calf after an 8 month gestation, between mid-May to mid-July each year.

DSED1996Injuries do happen, and sometimes even death.

Red deer are active throughout the 24 hour period but make more use of open spaces during the hours of darkness in populations experiencing frequent disturbance . Peak times of activity are at dawn and dusk.

DSED7496ARed deer are widespread throughout the UK, and can be found in many parks and in the wild.  Bradgate Park in Leicestershire, Lyme Park in Cheshire, Tatton Park, Dunham Massey, and the Lake District.   Also common in East Anglia, and the South West of England.  In Scotland in the Scottish Highlands, Dumfriesshire.

 

Back to Basics – Ducks and Coots

It’s been great to have a few days to myself  – although we did cover the opening of ‘Avenue Q’ down at the Lowry theatre this week, it’s otherwise been fairly quiet.  And with the weather being somewhat excellent, I headed off to the local wildlife park to see what was on.

First off – it’s obviously bath time, and the warm sunshine has got all the ducks up and moving around.

I’m a sucker for a duck, (especially with orange sauce!) and it’s actually harder to take good duck shots than a lot of photographers think.  I love this one.  He’s obviously having so much fun.

Plus, the Coots were knocking seven bells out of each other, as the fight for territory and females escalates into serious fighting.  Three Coots were fighting for some time, but eventually just seemed to stop, give up, and swim off like nothing had happened.

The more I watch, the more I realise just how brutal nature really is.  The bird on the left in the shot below, was eventually pushed completely under the water, and was stood on.  Briefly I wondered if it was going to drown, but up it popped and peace fell once more upon the pond.