La Berrea

2011_09_20 CAB - Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) 05
The Bellowing Stag after Dusk

The Autumn Equinox in Spain is when summer officially ends and autumn starts. At this time of the year in the mountains of Toledo and the Sierra Morenas, as well as many other parts of Ciudad Real, the sound of autumn is the famous Berrea, or Bellow of the rutting season. The Red Deer stags, or Harts, have grown antlers of impressive proportions and are bellowing to announce their presence and claim to harems of does, or hinds. The bellowing of the harts is not a call to the females, but a warning to other harts to stay away from their females. Later in the season they start to fight over the hinds and the sounds of the antlers clashing in the evening and night is impressive. When the larger harts are weaker from fighting for supremacy with younger suitors, other would-be harem owners take them on in the knowledge that they may now be stronger.
2011_09_20 CAB - Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) 02
A Red Deer Hart
Cabañeros National Park, where these shots were taken, is an ideal spot to see and hear this fantastic display of testosterone. In the mountains there bellows rebound off the rocky sides. In the middle of the Raña, what is called the Serengeti of Spain, there are thousands, and hundreds of males bellowing as loud and long as they can. When the sun has dropped and you stand on this seemingly African terrain in the quiet, with no traffic to be heard, it conjures a primeval feeling in you. It is an experience not to be missed. Below is a recording made of the sounds of the night in Fuencaliente.

To visit Cabañeros there is access to some walks on the outskirts of the park and limited road access. For the best experience though, to see wild boar, Imperial Eagles, Black Vultures and more of the impressive quantity of fauna and flora Cabañeros has, you should contact the visitor centre for 4×4 tours into the interior. Or you could contact me and I will arrange everything for you. Cabañeros for me seems like a whole new undiscovered region of Spain where you can get lost in its wilderness. At the risk of offending anyone, it makes Monfragüe look like a drive-through wildlife park. It surely must be one of the more magnificent and awe inspiring parts of not just la Mancha, but Spain itself.

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