Carol Miller, Community Fundraising Volunteer

In the early morning mist of mid-October, I set off for my pre-booked 90 minute Red Deer Safari. As I waited for the start of the safari outside the visitor centre, I watched various birds visiting the bird feeders including long tailed tits, great tits, and blue tits. A jay was flying around the trees nearby and a squirrel scurried along the path, stopped in front of me, looked up at me and then carried on past. How nice it was to see that these creatures feel so comfortable at this reserve.

[Editor: ...sounds like a scene from Snow White]

At 9am Andrew, a volunteer at the reserve, and I set off and began to drive slowly along the tracks at the edge of some unassuming fields. We could see some deer in the distance and drove very slowly around the edge of their field in order to disturb them as little as possible. The deer are completely free to come and go whenever they please, but many of them tend to come back to the reserve during the rutting season. Despite their size they are very nervous to see people walking nearby, but are much more accepting of the more familiar RSPB vehicle.

Some stags hid behind bushes and then bravely stepped out proudly showing their majestic stature.


Others were busy rounding up their does, almost like a working sheepdog. One stag was rubbing its antlers on a bush in order to rub the velvet off and reveal the strong hard antlers beneath. Some of the deer were still the deep red colour which inspired their name, but some were changing to their thick winter coat which is a much paler.

Every now and then the stags would bellow at each other as if standing their ground and warning each other away. The larger stags had very deep voices.  Some stags had as few as two points on their antlers, but the strongest and healthiest stags had as many as fourteen points. These are truly magnificent creatures.

[Editor: ...for more information about Red Deer Safaris and other Minsmere events have a look on the reserve's website]


Photos by Carol Miller