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Field trip to Petworth Park

With the sun hanging low in the hazy October sky, six club members ventured out into the wilds of Petworth Park to track down some deer. No stalking skills necessary here- they were immediately right in front of us! For the first club field trip of the year, field trip secretary David Richardson led us out for a seasonal photographic favourite- the annual deer rut. 

At Petworth Park there are between 700 and 800 fallow deer, and being well habituated they make excellent photographic subjects. During the annual rut, the bucks show off their prowess to the does by bellowing, pawing the ground, and fighting. Not only is this a dramatic sight to witness, with potential for lots of action and fierce antler combat, but it is a great opportunity to practice a variety of camera skills.

Our first bucks appeared shortly after we arrived, in the area of denser trees just beside the car park. Being in shadow, this offered a chance for our newer members to practice using their cameras in lower light, trying out different ISO settings and manual focusing.

We then followed the distant bellows down the valley, to find a large herd grazing, resting, and getting up to mischief in the shade of several oak trees. Amid the does and younger bucks, several huge bucks were marking out their harems with bellows that echoed over the parklands. Some members approached with the sun behind them, to get some beautiful shots lit by the soft, early morning light, while others made their way into the light, seeking dramatic antler silhouttes. I was fortunate enough to catch a couple of bucks sparring, sizing each other up and repeatedly locking antlers in battle.

Eventually, we all met up under some large trees, which offered a good spot from which to capture the action. With our silhouettes masked by the trees, we could watch and photograph the deer without disturbing them, which led to some some behaviour shots of buck-doe interactions, including my favourite shot of the day- a flemen response (a specific gurn performed by many male animals when courting females.)  

As the sun rose higher and the deer began to settle down to rest, some members went for a short walk down to one of the lakes, capturing many seasonal delights such as mushrooms, sweet chestnuts, and turning leaves. A nice sit down, cup of tea, and biscuits provided by Sue rounded the trip off nicely.

Thank you to all the members that joined us, I hope you enjoyed all it as much as I did and we would love to see your trip photos on our next photo sharing evening on 30th October.

Photos from the field trip


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