A Family of Deer, At Suppertime

There are three deer in this photo, buck, doe, and fawn.  Can you find them all?

There are three deer in this photo, buck, doe, and fawn. Can you find them all?

We came upon a family of deer at the approach to Jamestown Island on the Colonial Parkway last evening.  It was after hours for both the island and for the Jamestown museum, to the right of this intersection, so traffic was very light.

The large tree to the right is an oak, and the deer are grazing for acorns.

The large tree to the right is an oak, and the deer are grazing for acorns.

We spotted the two grazing males, first.  My partner slowed and stopped so we could watch them and I could take photos.

He kept saying that he saw the doe peeking out from behind the Park Service sign.  I couldn’t see her; maybe because I was focused on taking photos of the bucks.

But if you look closely, you’ll see her watchful face to the far left in some of the photos.

August 27, 2014 Parkway 016

One by one, the young deer of the group emerged from the tree line and joined the males as we sat there.

August 27, 2014 Parkway 017

The doe remained in the woods, watching. 

Cars leaving the island approached, slowed, and watched.  One or two made the turn, very slowly, past the deer and out towards Jamestown Road and the ferry to Surry.

The trees at the back of the photo, across the road where the doe waits and watches, also include oaks.  It is easiest to find the acorns on the mown grass beneath this giant oak than to find them in the undergrowth of the woods.

The trees at the back of the photo, across the road where the doe waits and watches, also include oaks. It is easier to find the acorns on the mown grass beneath this giant oak than to find them in the undergrowth of the woods.

 

The bucks grew a bit more restless with  cars passing nearby, but stood their ground beneath the great oak tree as the little ones grazed.

 

August 27, 2014 Parkway 021

Acorns, from oaks, feed these deer during fall and winter.

Acorns have begun to form in this photo taken 10 days ago.  The acorns will continue to grow for several more weeks and provide food for many mammals over the winter.  They fall, a few at a time, over a period of months..

Acorns have begun to form in this photo taken 10 days ago. The acorns will continue to grow for several more weeks. They provide food for many mammals over the winter,  falling, a few at a time, over a period of months..

 

Higher in protein and fats than leaves and grass, they are important to winter survival for many species.  But for some reason, oaks in our area didn’t set acorns last autumn.

Without the millions of pounds of acorns normally available, deer, squirrels, and other native mammals suffered a very tough winter.

August 27, 2014 Parkway 022

We’ve been watching for acorns this August, and are very happy to have found evidence of an acorn crop this year.

It should prove easier for the deer to find food in the woods and ravines,  relieving the pressure on them to feed in our gardens.

August 27, 2014 Parkway 024

We love finding deer along the Parkway on our evening drives.

And we encourage them to remain here in the safety of the National Park, staying well away from  the major roads and neighborhoods!

 

The foal is looking back at his mother, across the road in the woods.

The fawn is looking back at his mother, across the road in the woods.

*

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

The Herd (Forest Garden 2014)

Our Herd of Deer (Forest Garden 2014)

Living With A Herd of Deer (Forest Garden 2013)

About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

5 responses to “A Family of Deer, At Suppertime

  1. Great shots of the deer, I love seeing them but not in my garden!! Or eating my grapes 🙂 I hope you guys are having a great weekend. Next week I think we are both suppose to get that Alaska blast. For us they are saying temperatures in the low 20’s

  2. Such delicate creatures.
    I can answer your oak/acorn question… they produce more heavily some years (called ‘mast’ years) presumably to overwhelm the predators to enable successful seed dispersal and eventual plant reproduction. The year that follows will be lighter in acorn production as the tree ‘rests.’ This has the effect of culling the animals that feed on the acorns, thus in this case, strengthening the herd. Sounds harsh, but ‘survival of the fittest’ works in the long run. Mother Nature knows best. 🙂

    • Thank you, Eliza. that is interesting. I hadn’t looked at it that way, but it certainly makes sense. She does know best, even when we don’t “get it” at the time. Hope all is well with you, WG

  3. Really good shots, WG. We are overrun here with deer this year. Actual herds of them are bounding through the fields. I am dreading this fall when the carnage will start on the roads. Yes, last year was a bad one for acorns and I am seeing evidence that we’ll have a bumper crop this year which is a good thing.

    • Thank you, Barbara. Hope you’re well. We were out again last night, at dusk, and were amazed at how many tiny baby deer we saw out feeding. Probably a third of the deer we saw were still spotted fawns. Does not bode well for the roads this fall, as you observe. The area approaching our neighborhood from the west is notorious for deer running out of the trees and causing accidents. I’m glad you’re seeing the acorns, too! This is the year for anyone who doesn’t already have a deer whistle mounted on their car to get one. It is amazing how effective such a simple and inexpensive device can be in scaring the deer away from the road. Best wishes, WG

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