A Suffolk Wildlife Spectacle – The Red Deer Rut at RSPB Minsmere

Our cosy corner of coastal Suffolk is awash with wildlife and beauty all year round and the best place to experience the wonderful wildlife within the splendour and tranquillity of Suffolk is RSPB Minsmere, a simply stunning haven of nature located just 10 miles (25 minutes drive) from our luxury accommodation here at Mollett’s Farm.

Red Deer on the marshes at RSPB Minsmere
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RSPB Minsmere is now famous having drawn the attention of BBC 2’s Springwatch. Although the TV show only focuses on one season, animal and nature lovers from all over the UK flock to Minsmere throughout the year and seize the opportunity to witness a fantastic array of species and some of the UK’s rarest wildlife within their idyllic natural habitats.

Each season brings a treat. The Winter season brings a gathering of Bewick’s Swans, a rare sight as they holiday in the safety of Suffolk from their natural arctic Russian habitat over 3,000 miles away; the Spring season brings the return of the booming voiced Bitterns who can be heard from over a mile away; the Summer Season plays host to beautiful bird species nurturing their young, bushes smothered in rare butterflies and elusive pond-circling dragonflies, but the season that brings the most action and excitement is Autumn and the Red Deer Rut!

Three Bewick's Swans Paddling in the Marshes

The Red Deer Rut

October is the most exciting time of the year for deer watching. The Red Deer is the largest land mammal in the UK weighing up to 190kg! Their breeding season, also known as a rut, runs from the end of September, throughout October, and into mid-November. During this period male deer (stags) participate in elaborate and bellowing displays of dominance, and engage in testosterone fuelled, passionate, sometimes deadly battles in order to win exclusive mating rights with the females (hinds).

Two Red Deer clash antlers in a challenge of dominance
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One of the best places to view this incredible spectacle is the viewpoint on Westleton Heath. There you will be as close to the action as you can be but a safe enough distance away from the fierce fighting. Make sure to bring your binoculars. This will ensure an even better view as you experience the bellowing roars, as the stags size each other up, and the deafening crack of antlers as a young buck challenges the dominant male, whilst his “harem” of females await the victor.

For those looking to get even more up close and personal to the action RSBP Minsmere offers a Red Deer 4×4 safari experience. Every day across the months of October jump in alongside an experienced guide and get closer to the deer as you are driven on to the rutting fields with up to 4 people. There you’ll learn and boost your knowledge on the rituals of these rare and beautiful creatures. Don’t go thinking that rutting Red Deer have chased away all of the other wildlife in the reserve, you can also expect to spot woodpeckers, rabbits, maybe a sly fox, and much, much more.

A fox on the prowl at RSPB Minsmere

Explore more

The RSPB Minsmere website is full of fantastic information, and details of their fun activities can be found on theie Events page (just search Suffolk). It also encompasses three beautiful and well signposted nature trails. Most of the trails and hides are accessible (here’s their full access statement) and it’s also possible to borrow a manual wheelchair or mobility scooter – although booking ahead for this is essential, especially at this exciting time.

The Coastal Trail – A 2 mile circular path that leads you weaving through the scrublands, around the reedbeds and along the shingle beach with 5 secret hides (so that the wildlife will never know you’re there) overlooking the shallow pools known as the Scrape, where migrant birds scour the waters and ducks nestle up for the winter.

The Island Mere Trail – A 1.5 mile circular path that guides you through ancient oak woodlands and into two secret hides. Marvel at the bird species from the 5 meter high Bittern hide that overlooks the reedbed and its unsuspecting occupants, or relax and watch the insects in the skywatching seats of the Canopy hide.

The Woodland Trail – A 1.5 mile circular walk that delves deep into the ancient woodlands where in the summer beautiful Bluebells or elusive dragonflies can be found. This path links up to the public bridleway and you could then head on to explore Eastbridge or Dunwich.

For nature lovers, birdwatchers, and wildlife enthusiasts the reserve at RSPB Minsmere is an unmissable sight to behold. So why not come and stay with us in our luxury self-caterering accommodation (studio or cottage). You could pack up a picnic, head out and explore, and return back for a cosy night’s sleep.

There are plenty more activities to enjoy right on our doorstep here on the Suffolk Coast, so make sure to take a look at our other blog posts. We also love to give recommendations on other fantastic things to do, so make sure to ask us anything when you arrive. We look forward to welcoming you.