A Winter Wonderland – Part 1

And not a bauble in sight.

I’ve been wanting to photograph deer in Richmond Park for years. It was one of the points I mentioned here on the blog when considering the move to London so, obviously, with all this frost and snow about the first forecast of a clear morning had me setting the alarm for 5:00 am.

That bit sucked.

What didn’t suck was Richmond Park as it overwhelmingly rewarded my 5:00 am start.

This is going to be a bit of a long post based purely around how many pics I have to share so I think I’ll approach it chronologically.

So grab a cup a tea (brief pause there as I did – in a Cyberman from Dr.Who mug no less) and we’ll make a hideously early start.

Having not cancelled my alarm, missed my train or gotten lost at Clapham junction I arrived at Richmond station in the pitch black and proceeded to head in the opposite direction to everyone else. There was a slight problem when I made it to one of the pedestrian gates at 6:45 only to find it locked with a not very temporary looking sign informing me that it wouldn’t open until 7:30 due to the deer cull still being in progress – not the same information that the website had provided!

Seeing as it was somewhere below 0°C I didn’t fancy hanging about for 45 minutes so I wandered on round to the main gate. Now this one also looked rather closed but as I went to peer forlornly through the bars a cyclist appeared, opened the unlocked pedestrian gate, and went in. Confident that I could do the same I headed through the gate and made for the central lake, Pen Ponds.

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07:18, Birds gather on the frozen Pen Ponds, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

I’ll leave out the camera settings etc from this blog post but I’ll have to revisit some of the pics as I want to talk about the Sony a7II/Tamron 150-600mm combo at some point in the future!

Having read Max Bridge’s ‘Deer Hunter’ blog series and downloaded a copy of his ⇓THE DEER ARE HERE⇓ map I felt I had to get to the locations he’d highlighted as quickly as possible but of course this went out the window when I spotted my first deer. For advice on photographing deer in Richmond Park his is definitely the blog of choice.

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07:23, There’s one!, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

Now I was pretty excited by this but evidently the deer wasn’t as it strolled off down to a particularly grotty area of the pond to meet up with a couple of it’s mates for an early morning drink.

Having followed the deer (slowly, from about 50 yards away – not sure how bad tempered deer are in the morning but I wasn’t interested in finding out) I’d wandered away from the original, carefully planned, direction and so decided that, bugger it, this was the new direction I was going.

Happily, on passing the next copse, I found some more deer out on a morning stroll.

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07:31, Not sure why but this deer looks like its gotten half way to work and realised it’s a Saturday, Richmond Park, Tuesday 12/12/2017

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07:37, The deer equivalent of the school run, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

With the benefit of a map of Richmond Park open on a second tab, I can tell you that I headed on up the hill between the Isabella Plantation and Prince Charles’s Spinney only to arrive at a car park. Knowing that the area marked on Max’s map was somewhere off to my left (East) I skidded my way down the footpath with the morning rush hour traffic driving through the park nearby.

Hiding around a fence on my way down the hill I found this happy chappy.

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08:02, Someone’s not a morning deer, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

Why he looked quite so annoyed with me I don’t know as this was taken at 600mm making him over 30 yards away but he soon calmed down and went back to his breakfast.

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08:03, Back to breakfast, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

On the advice of a passing Kiwi, I continued on along the path in search of a large stag.

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08:12, Now THOSE are antlers!, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

Now, he doesn’t look quite so big while he’s lying in the grass but when he’d decided that he didn’t like the cut of my jib and so stood up to glare at me he certainly looked, what deer experts would call, a big bugger. After standing around for a few minutes trying to look non-threatening while he just stood there staring at me I decided just to walk down the path a little way. At that he wandered over to where I’d been stood and then looked back at me with a ‘if I catch you standing in my spot again’ look – to be fair it was a nice spot.

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08:13, Yes you can take my picture, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

Then he wandered off to find some breakfast.

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08:13, Bloody photographer stood in my spot who does he think he is?, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

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08:14, Better not be in my spot when I get back, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

There was a beautiful shaft of bright orange morning light just to the right of where grumpy was wandering so I decided to hang around to see if he’d be so kind as to go and stand in it.

He didn’t.

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08:16, Grumpy is out of shot to the left, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

Giving up with grumpy I carried on down the path to see if I could find some more willing subjects and I just managed to spot some lying in the brush about 15 yards off the path.

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08:39, Not convinced it’s the most effective hiding place, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

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08:40, Having a lie in, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

His lie in was rudely interrupted by a group of dog walkers but I think the stag took it in good spirit.

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08:41, Cheeky!, Richmond Park, London, 12/12/2017

And then he posed for a nice photo in the shaft of morning light – take note grumpy.

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08:41, I suppose if you’re a stag and you live in Richmond Park you gain plenty of modelling experience, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

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08:47, The appearance of dogs didn’t get everyone up, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

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08:48, Nope too cold staying here, Richmond Park, 12/12/2017

Seeing as we’re only about half way through the pics and I’m away this weekend I think I’ll have to make this into my first two-parter. My favourite shot from the day also happens to be the next one so I’ll start the second part with that one.

Doug

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