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.

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

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

Weekly Photo Challenge: One

dec 23 2013 013

The mistletoe and tree are one, growing together as a single organism.  Roots deeply embedded into the living tissue of the tree, the mistletoe draws water and nutrients from the tree’s sap.  The evergreen mistletoe still makes its own food from sunlight, and has its owl life cycle living high in the branches of this oak.  Feeding birds, insects, and other tiny creatures, the mistletoe’s branches also offer shelter and safe haven.  As birds visit and eat the seeds in late winter, they help the mistletoe colony to spread and grow to nearby branches and other trees.  Every winter the new growth is revealed when the oak’s leaves have fallen.

One garden, one life.  Everything is connected in the most subtle ways.  Appreciating the interconnectedness of life takes a lifetime to fully comprehend, if then.

Our skies are overcast again today, with rain puddling on the ground and in all of the low spots.  A snow sky, we called it growing up, with heavy white and grey clouds full of moisture.  Too warm for snow in the moment,  once the temperatures plummet tonight, we may have snow for Christmas Eve.

The last work day before the Christmas holiday begins in earnest has been a soggy one.  The gifts we took around to friends today were all touched by the winter rain; perhaps an added blessing.

May your December 23 be a productive one.  May your remaining Christmas chores be completed in joy and good company, and may all of your travels be safe ones.

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2013

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