The red deer at Tatton Park are just now coming into velvet, starting to grow their antlers ready for the battles of autumn. On a hot June afternoon they’re content to rest in the long grass, awaiting the cool of evening.
It’s the antler growing season in Tatton Park, Knutsford. The growing antlers have a wonderful soft appearance, compared to the harsher, more angular full grown variety. I was fortunate to capture antler pics of both red deer and fallow deer on recent visits to the park.
The antlers of the two species are completely different, in that fallow deer are the only UK deer with palmate antlers.
We’re walking by the lake in Cheshire’s Tatton Park on a grey late October afternoon. Red deer often congregate near the Knutsford entrance, but today are not to be seen there. Further into the park we hear the baying of a stag, then and answering roar from a slightly different direction, and so on.
Turning up towards the bank covered in the great avenue of beech trees we pass a few delicate roe deer, and then catch the pungent smell of the red deer, a deep pungency that you only get at this time of year.
Higher up, a couple of women are stopped, looking over to the right. Gaining height, we suddenly see what they are looking at – two large groups of red deer, each with a large stag at its heart, surrounded by females and younger deer.
The great stag with magnificent antlers lets out a mighty roar, soon answered by his counterpart with an equally mighty roar. The other deer appear to ignore them and carry on munching, or standing or sitting taking the air. Apart from the stags, only the watching people seem to be greatly impressed, slightly afraid even.
Power and dominance are clearly established, there are probably enough females to go around; it never comes to the locking of antlers.