I had turned south along a mowed path that ran parallel to the pond, which was to my left. The tall trees that create a hedge row (to my right) had all but prevented my view of what was to come. As I rounded the corner I saw her. Standing just about 40 feet away, was a lovely White-tailed deer. I don’t know if she or I was more surprised, but she only hesitated slightly before turning and taking off.
She cut to the left (East) and negotiated the rise which creates the berm on the south end of the pond. It’s steep at its highest point, and that rounded hill is all that holds in all the water in the pond, which is fed by run-off from the north. I heard her cutting through the tall weeds, and then I saw her. She had come to a stop at the center of the ridge and was doing what mama deer do when they are attempting to keep their fawns under foot while simultaneously scanning for threats to their safety.
I focused and snapped off a few shots. At the time I could not see the fawns as they were shorter than the mature grasses and I was a good 200 feet away. When I got back to the office and downloaded the images, I came to realize that there were three babes standing in the doe’s shadow. Two, which were lighter and appeared to be younger, and one that was a bit darker in color and also seemed larger than the twins.
Suddenly, I heard the sound of grass parting way, as if something was tromping through it. Then, I heard the plunk-splash of something fairly large breaking the water’s surface. I focused my camera toward the activity, hoping I’d catch what was approaching me. Then, I saw them.
Running towards (not away) from me, were the twins. Apparently, one had taken a wrong step and ended up in the pond – causing the splashing sound. I looked up to see if the mother was coming to their aide, but I did not see her.
I don’t actually remember it like this, but the files on my camera tell me that I snapped off a few shots of newly blooming milkweed flowers (funny how the mind works.) I suppose all of the Doe-a-Deer activity had waned, so I turned my lens elsewhere.
Milkweed is critical to the survival of the Monarch butterfly. I’m always happy to see it growing in the tracts of land we leave grow wild.
A mere minute after I captured the lovely blooms (based on the file properties which record time and date), I saw her. The doe was directly across the pond from me, standing at the water’s edge on the East side. She must have slipped over the berm, completely out of my sight, then ventured back to the water’s edge. Perhaps, since I hadn’t moved (as I was shooting the flowers), she considered me only as a marginal threat.
The late afternoon sun illuminated her beautiful, rich color. At her heels was the darker colored, single fawn. I can only assume that the twins belonged to another doe. Perhaps she had left her babes in the tall, cool grass at the pond’s edge while she foraged elsewhere. They may have been scared up by the other doe, and at first ran to her side, but then attempted to get back to their hiding spot, which permitted me to get a couple of good shots of them.
Isn’t she absolutely stunning?
As I was reviewing the photos, I came upon this series that struck me as quite interesting. If you focus on the animals’ legs you may notice how the fawn’s steps are synchronized with her mother’s footsteps.
White-tailed deer are typically crepuscular. That means they are active at dawn and dusk. It was an infrequent sighting to observe them in in broad daylight. I’m grateful to have had the chance to watch this mother and babe, if even for such a brief time.