NATURE NOTE

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Next week will be a time of high excitement in woods harbouring fallow deer, for the annual rut is reaching its peak. Each master buck takes up a stand, often no bigger than a couple of tennis courts, and paces up and down it uttering loud groans or grunts. The noise, like that of a giant pig, serves both as a summons to the does, and as a challenge to lesser males, which dart about nervously on the perimeter of the stand, trying to get in on the action. If a newcomer decides to take on the master buck, the pair may walk a few yards shoulder to shoulder, on parallel courses, as if ignoring each other, then suddenly wheel inwards, lock antlers, and wrestle furiously, crashing though undergrowth until one gives way. Bucks are usually most active at night: they often go on groaning until dawn, but fall quiet as daylight comes up.

Duff Hart-Davis

Comments