Red Deer Photography at Woburn Deer Park

December 21, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I live pretty close to Woburn Abbey, and the surrounding Woburn Deer Park is my favourite local spot to spend time outside.

woburn abbey house and a red deer stagWoburn Abbey, Low Sun & Red Deer StagWoburn Abbey, with a large red deer stag, at sunset.

British Wildlife & Landscape Photography. Woburn, Bedfordshire, UK.

 

OVERVIEW OF WOBURN DEER PARK

The house and grounds are owned by the Bedford estate, and open to visitors all year round. It seems to be a popular tourist spot, hosting the Abbey, gardens, tea room, and antiques centre. The surrounding deer have a huge and varied landscape to roam, and each part provides a slightly different habitat. At 3,000 acres, there’s plenty of space for the deer, as well as lots of other wildlife. The estate is crisscrossed with public footpaths, which you should respectfully to stick to, providing several miles of walking. Most connect with other walks in the area such as the Greensand Ridge.

 

DEER

Woburn is home to 9 species of deer, but I tend to look for the red deer:

three red deer stags standing together looking at the cameraRed Deer - Family PortraitThree large stags, in the snow, looking right down the lens.
My favourite shot of red deer so far.

British Wildlife Photography. Woburn, Bedfordshire, UK.

The red deer (Cervus elaphus) are the largest wild animal in Britain. They’re an iconic native species, frequently used to represent British wildlife in general, and I think their postures are particularly photogenic. The Woburn deer also have the largest antlers of any UK population, which makes them both unique and even more spectacular.

For the photo above, I was crouching in a dip for quite a while, watching a few deer and waiting for the moment to press the shutter. I have, in the past, been asked how I managed to get them to pose like this. Of course, I didn’t – It’s just a matter of patience and good fortune. Before the centre stag moved into view, I took a couple of shots of the two either side, which made an interesting composition on their own. When the larger stag moved in from the right, I couldn’t believe my luck as he briefly stopped to look at me. It was a rare moment when I knew I’d got a shot I was happy with even as I clicked the shutter.

 

I was up at sunrise for the following photo, also of Red Deer:

a red deer stag in the misty woodland sunriseRed Deer - Sunrise Among FernsRed Deer, in the Autumn dawn.

My favourite deer photo of this year, and I have it framed at home.

British Wildlife Fine Art Photography. Woburn, Bedfordshire, UK.

This is another great example of the variation in habitat at Woburn Deer Park. I really like to find compositions which include the ferns, and other natural features which frame the animals in their environment.

 

Knowing the site and the deer as I do now has also given me great potential for close-ups and abstracts, which are possible with some patient stalking. The set of Red Deer on White below have proven to be some of my most popular photos…

high key portrait of a red deer headRed Deer - Angled Portrait On WhiteClose-up portrait of a red deer stag.
Framed to the right of shot. Presented in a style to reflect the traditional high-key portrait.

British Wildlife Fine Art Photography, Woburn, Bedfordshire, UK.

high-key fine art nature photo of a red deer stagRed Deer - Head On - Centred - On WhitePortrait of a red deer stag, in high-key lighting style.
Placed centrally, staring down the camera lens.

British Wildlife Fine Art Photography, Woburn, Bedfordshire, UK.

a red deer stag faces the viewer for a high key portraitRed Deer - Portrait On WhiteClose-up portrait of a red deer stag. Framed to the right of shot. Presented in a style to reflect the traditional high-key portrait.
British Wildlife Fine Art Photography, Woburn, Bedfordshire, UK.

 

This Sika deer (Cervus nippon) is a similar species to red deer. Not native to Britain, but now increasing in wild populations around the country. I took the opportunity to expose for the sky here, and silhouette the deer against the blue…

blue hour sillhouette of a sika deer stagSika Deer - Blue Hour Silhouette (Portrait)Sika Deer Stag, in autumn, after sunset.

British Wildlife Fine Art Photography. Woburn, Bedfordshire, UK.

 

WILDLIFE

The park isn’t just home to the managed deer population. I also see little owlsgreen woodpeckersfoxessquirrels (both grey and black varieties), red kitesbuzzardsswansgeeseducks, & herons. And if that’s not enough, you can also frequently hear lions roaring from the adjacent safari park!

This is a grey squirrel I photographed while laying in the snow. I was wet and cold, but it was great to get to watch them go about collecting the very acorns I’d watched them bury in the autumn.

Grey Squirrel in the snow at woburn deer parkGrey Squirrel in the snow at woburn deer parkGrey Squirrel in the snow at woburn deer park

 

TREES

The estate is well established, and it contains many species of trees from imported giant redwoods to the classic English oak.

 

For me, Woburn is a place I can go for peace and quiet. Bedfordshire isn’t a hugely populated county, but there are few places you can visit and truly feel like you could be miles from anywhere. There are popular spots, and tourist honey-pots, but there are also quieter areas with woods and trees, offering near silence and great potential for wildlife encounters.

You can see my collection of deer photography here, which is mostly from Woburn. I have a few of these prints up at home myself, and I’m sure I’ll continue to add to that in the future.

Post by George Wheelhouse, 2012.


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