Yes folks, it October, so that means it's time for the rut. The season when testosterone fuelled red deer stags battle for supremacy and the right to mate with as many hinds as possible.
There are two ways to watch the rut at Minsmere: from a distance on foot, or from the comfort of a 4x4 vehicle, with an expert RSPB guide on hand.
To watch them on foot, please view from the footpath that runs along the southern edge of Westleton Heath. To avoid blocking our entrance roads, we ask visitors not to park in the passing places along these narrow roads, but to use the large Natural England car park on Westleton Heath. From there, it's about a half mile walk to the viewing area - walk back towards Westleton for 200 metres, cross the road opposite a five bar gate and follow the path past an old quarry on your right, then look south across the rutting fields. This path is also a great area to look for Dartford warblers and woodlarks, whilst a post-breeding flock of stone-curlews is often viewable from the same place as the deer. I was treated to some impressive bellowing stags from there last night. (If you're not sure where this viewing area is, please ask at reception and we can provide a map.)
At least one stag has been performing regularly outside Bittern Hide, especially early and late in the day, though you are less likely to see the posturing and chases that are typical of the main rutting area.
The second way to watch is from our 4x4 tours. These are always very popular, and having not been able to run any last year they are sure to sell out quickly, so don't wait too long to make your booking. Tours will take place twice a day, at 11 am and 2 pm, every day from Tuesday 12 to Sunday 31 October, and last about 2 hours. Each ticket covers the hire of the vehicle and guide and up to three passengers (note that we can only take three people this year, not four as in the past, due to our Covid19 risk assessment). Tickets cost £120 for RSPB or £150 for non members. Other changes this year include the requirement for all drivers and passengers to wear face coverings and keep windows open.
To book your ticket for an 11 am deer safari, please click here, or for the 2 pm tours please click here. All terms and conditions and a list of FAQs are included on the booking pages.
Don't forget that you can also book places on our guided walks, and find details of our self guided trails at https://events.rspb.org.uk/minsmere
If you prefer to find your own wildlife, then there's still plenty to spot, from autumn leaves and fungi to winter wildfowl and roving flocks of hungry tits and finches. Highlights this week have included an otter at Island Mere last night, a juvenile curlew sandpiper on East Scrape, a cattle egret (photo below) that has moved between Eastbridge and the South Levels, great white egret and bittern in the reedbed, hobbies hunting over the car park, and some superb views of bearded tits from North Wall, the South Hide area and Island Mere.
(Photos by Steve Everett)
Apologies if anyone tried to book a safari over the weekend - we had a fault with the booking pages that said that all dates were full. This has now been resolved and bookings are open again, with several dates still available later this week
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