Out this morning hoping to complete the dog walk before the forecasted rain arrived. Gloomy as heck, but took the camera anyway.
In one of the fields I saw a buck chasing a doe:
Sadly they disappeared into a small copse, not to return.
Further down the track in her normal field I spied the "lady friend" I am meeting on pretty much a daily basis now:
This is a large square field, and try to picture it that I was on the bottom right hand corner of the square and the doe was at the bottom left hand corner. Taking a couple of steps forward along the dirt track I suddenly realised that there was a buck along the hedge to my right. It was the big six-pointer, which I've not seen for several weeks now:
Retreating slowly, I decided to watch and see what happened. He started to make his way right to left across the field towards where the doe was standing, at the same time moving behind some longer grass. Deciding that I had nothing to lose, I made my way along the track, in the firm belief that the doe would react as she normally does and ignore me. Sure enough, I walked straight past her - possibly 30 metres away - with her watching me all the while, even when I stopped to grab a quick photo:
Having completed traversing the bottom of the square field, I now started to walk up the track on the left hand side, so the buck was effectively now walking towards me. He was having a grand time grazing and thrashing the undergrowth, but eventually he approached the track where I was now sitting with the four dogs. By this point his headgear was adorned with some additional greenery:
Shaking this off he moved closer and closer to where I was waiting with the camera:
Eventually he was about 10 meters away, and the "click" of the shutter got his attention:
You can see in the photo above that, by now, the forecast rain had arrived, but fortunately I was under a tree so missing the worst of it.
Keeping still, the buck watched me intently for a couple of minutes and then carried on towards the doe:
He sniffed her - and the air - a few times, but either she's no longer hormonal or he's simply not interested, so they moved apart. He was now approaching the bottom right hand corner of the field where I had first appeared - in the photo above it is the end of the hedge next to the post and rail fence.
With a decision to make I opted to retrace my steps. It would mean walking back past the doe but I was confident now that she wouldn't be spooked by either me or the dogs. I got back to the bottom left hand corner of the square field and then noticed a muntjac buck had appeared a little way down the woodland. This untouched photo gives you some idea of just how gloomy the morning was, but you can still see he has some impressive looking antlers:
Turning back to focus on the roe buck, he was now approaching the track about 80m away from me:
He stepped out on onto the track and caught sight of me and the dogs:
Not overly concerned, he crossed the track and spent a few more seconds watching me before heading into the wood:
Guessing that he might come out into the far field, I walked along the track back to the spot where I'd first come in, pausing for a few seconds to take another shot of the doe, as although still gloomy the light had improved enough to make another photo possibly worthwhile:
That small mark on her left shoulder shows that it is the same doe as I encountered yesterday.
Leaving her to finish her breakfast, I got to the corner of the field and - sure enough - there was the buck, making his way back towards where I'd seen the original buck chasing the original doe:
Hopefully now he's back, and the rut is underway, I might get a chance to grab a few more photos in the coming days. If I do, you'll see them here first