Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Urban deer move in

Only in recent days have I become certain that tracks of three deer in our yard back in January were real.  My family would tell me they had seen them, and before long I glimpsed them myself, all three, as they grazed peacefully on who-knows-what in the yard and little woods behind the house.  

I first got a few photos two days ago when I happened to have my camera in my pocket as I walked to the car.  Now there were only two--both young (yearlings, I guess)--so Mama was letting them forage on their own.  Yesterday the two stayed so long and looked so much at home that I should have looked around for a U-Haul--they appeared to be moving in for the long term.  I quickly found there was no need to hide indoors, or stalk them with my camera: they were quite comfortable with my presence provided I made no sudden movements and didn't get too close.  I suspect that, if I'd proffered a tasty something, they would have come to me.

 I was caught by surprise: by the time I had switched the camera to the right setting,
they were moving off in the mildest alarm.

 By yesterday they had discovered the branches from recent pruning, 
discarded beside an old. disused swing set.

 After their repast, they didn't so much flee, as mosey off.
The raised white tail is--on these two, at least--more 
an expression of energy than a warning of danger.

 Returning at the end of the day, the two stayed together,
 and one would sometimes nuzzle the other in a way fit to make me melt.
Here they seem to be grazing on vinca--probably just the flowers,
but its a major invasive and they can have as much as they want!
(I wonder if they like garlic mustard?  If they'd eat the English ivy I'd pay them!)

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that deer are urban animals today.  I guess I'll get used to it in time.  Then, like more rural folk, I can start thinking of them as another &#$%@# garden pest.  Lord knows, in the space of an hour any one of them could clean out the little vegetable we always plant.  

On the other hand, their lives may be short: there are hunters' tree stands in the woods not a mile from here; I was surprised to learn that hunting isn't illegal within city limits.  I thought about shooing them off when I'd thought about this, but this little family is already so comfortable around humans that it would probably be pointless.  And of course, without their traditional predators, deer overpopulate regularly.  Even so, I hope they learn to keep their heads down.

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