It might have just been another day in the office for James McComiskey, our Date with Nature officer at Westleton Heath, but for everyone else who visited the rutting red deer on the heath, it was far from normal! Sadly, we've now packed up our watchpoint, but for those who missed it James sent me this report:
'Whoa! The rut has ended, leaving a few exhausted stags to recuperate… not to mention the RSPB team!
Almost 3,500 people passed through Westleton Heath this autumn to enjoy the majestic sights and sounds of the annual red deer rut. Visitors were wowed by glorious stags, who spent much of October defending their harems of hinds against rivals. Several large males battled for dominance on the heath this year, providing regular views of clashing antlers.
With plenty of 'ooooh's' and 'ahhhh's' from our guests, it was certainly an experience they will never forget. Atmospheric bellowing, delivered by the stags, was also heard on most days.
There was plenty of other wildlife to enjoy, too. The reserves' stone-curlews, with their googly eyes and beautiful calls, made regular appearances during the beginning of October, producing beaming smiles from our visitors. There were also regular sightings of little owl, sparrowhawk, kestrel, Dartford warbler, fox, and muntjac deer.
But don't just take my word for how great this event was! I'll leave you with some comments from our visitor book:
'Great event, will definitely come back next year''What a wonderful opportunity for us and the children''We really enjoyed hearing the deer and seeing them strut their stuff.''GREAT! A once in a lifetime adventure! I will return soon.''Great Show! Plenty of stags charging about, we witnessed one good fight!'
Our East of England team will be running more events throughout the year, so keep your eyes peeled for more Dates near you. Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund for making these Dates possible.