Berrea in Spain
"Songs that shake the forest"
At the beginning of autumn, at the end of September and beginning of October, a surprising natural spectacle takes place in Spain. Very characteristic calls begin to be heard at the break of dawn and even more so when the sun is about to set and the night is already well into the night.
These sounds are what give the event its name, as they are the bellows produced by the stags during the rutting season. "The bellowing
But before we get down to business, let's talk about our main character, the red deer, also known as the stag or European deer, is widespread in the northern half of the planet, from Europe and North America to parts of Asia. Its size is imposing, with a height that can exceed 2 metres and a weight of 200 kilos.
Undoubtedly, the most spectacular part of the male deer is its antlers, which are renewed every year. These new antlers have a kind of fluff, which the bucks rub against the trees to remove it before the rutting battles begin.
The older the stag gets, the bigger and more majestic its antlers become.
Now it's time for the rut. This fascinating season marks the time when the red deer begin their mating rituals. It is also an unmistakable sign that summer is over and autumn is beginning.
In Spain we can find large tracts of land where the deer, lords of the area, use to bellow and in this way announce both the females and other rival deer that are in the area.
The females are left waiting for two males to meet, for when they do, another event takes place as part of this natural spectacle, which has become a great attraction for lovers of the countryside: the epic battles in favour of the females.
When one buck meets another, they begin to bawl louder, and prepare to clash antlers in a fierce struggle for the female and for territory.
This fierce battle can last for hours.... until one of them gives up, and exhausted leaves the victor to collect his prize, copulating with the females, who have been waiting patiently until the best stallion has prevailed.
In fact, the females are undeterred during the fight. They want their offspring to have the best genetic material, so they wait until the strongest one wins the battle. Only then can the mating ritual begin.
Where can the rut be observed?
In Spain there are several places where thousands of nature lovers gather every year to watch this fascinating spectacle. Some of the most significant are the following:
Sierra de Cazorla. This area in the province of Jaén is the largest protected area in Spain, and a good place to hear and see the rut. The most recommended spot is around the Tranco de Beas reservoir, along which there is a route named after Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente.
Monfragüe, in Cáceres, is another privileged place to enjoy the rutting season. You can also see birds in the wild, such as vultures and imperial eagles, in a fabulous setting where the autumn colours are in full splendour.
The Cabañeros Park in Ciudad Real is another great place to enjoy the rutting of the deer. It is best to find a meadow and watch from a distance, as the animals prefer not to be disturbed.
Selva de Irati is a great place if you prefer to experience the rut in northern Spain. This area of Navarre also offers extraordinary scenery, well worth a visit.
For us, the Picos de Europa is one of the most spectacular places to witness this event, as the deer in the mountains tend to be larger than those in the south. They are also more elusive and more spread out in the mountains, so it requires skill and a lot of silence to witness the battles... an adventure we definitely plan to film.
There are many other places where herds of deer live in the wild or in semi-freedom. For example the Monte del Pardo in Madrid, the Doñana Park or the Sierra de Hornachuelos. And the list goes on and on.
Tips for enjoying the rutting season
If you want to experience this spectacle, here are some recommendations to enjoy it to the full:
Avoid crowds. Deer shy away from people, so the more people there are, the less chance you have of seeing them.
Look for a high, clear area to observe your surroundings. A pair of binoculars will get you further.
Be patient and don't make any noise. The hearing of these animals is very fine and at the slightest sound they will run away.
We hope you enjoy this time of the year and?
See you in the countryside!