A week on , and in better weather conditions , I decided to re-visit Knoll Park , for two reasons .
Firstly , to see how the rutting season was progressing and secondly , to make sure I had seen Devil's Fingers at the site , as a fellow volunteer from the Common visited with directions , and although finding the GPS co-ordinates that I gave him , did not find the fungi .
Arriving in beautiful sunshine , and before getting out of the car , it was obvious from the amount
bellowing , that things had indeed moved on since last Friday . As I walked up to the copse of Sweet Chestnut at the top of the rise , some faces were familiar in their pits around the perimeter . Different from my last visit were the numbers of really young males , keeping themselves away from the older males , but probably getting a feel for the rut . In all , there must have been 25+ males within a 25mtr. circle of the Sweet Chestnut copse . So it was obvious that that number of males about , trouble would break out , which it did almost at once . Sometimes it was straight forward head to head , and sometimes it involved a referee . The nearby car park was not out of bounds either , and it was fortunate that not many visitors had arrived at this time . As well as the males , there were 65/75 females in and around the area , and the dominant male had by far the largest harem . There were still the four top stags , each with their pits right on the edge of the copse , and directly opposite the dominant stag was his biggest rival , No.2. , but to begin with , apart from bellowing , there was no trouble amongst the top 4 .
Part of the dominant male's gameplan was to keep threats at bay and keep his harem intact by deliberately strutting like an Austrian white horse that I have seen on the television . But , the peace didn't last too long , before the dominant male and No.3 . , pitted just to the right of him , decided that some sorting out was needed , and down went the heads to an almighty crash . It was very noticeable though , that when the 4 main contenders did lock horns , it was more of a 'handbags' job compared to the two that fought down and into the car park .
It was also obvious that the bellowing , strutting and coralling , was taking it's toll on the dominant male , and when he could , he took a time out to recover his strength , before starting all over again .But , at the end of the day , all that hard work gets it's rewards , when the victor gets his spoils .
For others , it was a mater of , forget about this year , take it out on the nearest tree , things will be better for me next year .And the Devil's Fingers ? Yes they are still there . Three fully out , and the one above , with the fingers just about to emerge .
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