Autumn is all about leaves blowing in the wind, the change of colours, the shortening days, first chimney fires, and endless cups of tea during the day. But there’s more…
This time every year my family and I head to Richmond Park near London to experience one of the most amazing wildlife spectacles: the deer-rutting season! This year made no exception and we had the best overview of this special event.
Today, DOYOUSPEAKLONDON tells you everything you need to know about the deer-rutting season!
Richmond Park: home to free-roaming red and fallow deer
First, let’s talk a bit about Richmond Park. It is one of the eight London Royal Parks. Easily accessible from London by public transport, it is a paradise for bikers and joggers, as well as hikers, of course.
I love this park because it’s huge (the long walks in the forest and great spots for picnics are all yours), wild (animals are at home there, you’re the one peculiar :-)), full of trees to climb on, ferns to hide under and wooden huts to explore…(do I need to say children will not want to leave…?).
All seasons are great here, but my favorite ones are Spring -for the beautiful flowers you will find in the Isabella Plantation and the long daylight hours- and Autumn -for the deer-rutting season.
Deer-Rutting Season at Richmond Park
Autumn corresponds to the breeding season for the free-roaming red and fallow deer present in Richmond Park.
It will start mid-October and last until mid-November. This is a very particular time when you will hear the roaring of the stags competing with their rivals to mate with the hinds (female red deer).
Did you know that in the lead-up to the rut, male deers experience certain physiological changes: an increase of testosterone for sure, but also the doubling of neck thickness, the larynx becoming more prominent and the tongue changing shape?
Understandably roars are used by stags as a first way to intimidate and deter rivals. A deeper louder roar signals a larger animal. The sound of a roar can help rival stags determine from a distance whether to try their luck or not, and females can also use it to judge the best quality males in the area. Such a theatrical way to court the females!!!
There’s another funny thing about the roar: if two roars are evenly matched and neither stag retreats, the animals parallel walk to assess their opponent. And if neither deer backs down, they will engage in a shoving match to settle the dispute!
Harems during rutting season
It is quite extraordinary to see such big groups of wild animals while we are so close to the city!
Big stags’ goal will be to hold a harem with up to 40 hinds.
This is obviously a tiring position for stags to be “king of the castle” as they will spend most of their time chasing away challengers and preventing hinds from moving away, leaving little time for eating or sleeping.
Meanwhile, smaller stags will lie in wait to try to mate with the hinds when the dominant stag is in battle or exhausted after a fight. Wise ones…
Keep your distance during rutting season!
This is very common to see people trying to come very close to deers or hinds to take amazing pictures during the breeding season, but I can only advise you to be cautious (particularly with kids and dogs). Stags can be unpredictable and dangerous, especially now.
Have a safe visit to the park, enjoy the rutting season from a distance (bring binoculars or big lenses!), and the lovely sceneries!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found inspiration here. If you are soon going to have a day out in Richmond Park to discover the rutting season, please share your experience and opinion on DOYOUSPEAKLONDON’s blog!