Our Deer Neighbors - 2015
Kathy's Dragonfly Roost Pond Diary
(click any small image below to see it enlarged and expanded)
Just like in most neighborhoods, you have all kinds of neighbors: quiet, rowdy, friendly, shy and of different political persuations.
There's one thing a lot of our neighbors have in common though: four legs!!
We really do love our deer neighbors and chronicling their visits and the growth of their families brings us great joy.
I hope to share some of that joy with you.
Usually the deer don't arrive at our altitude (5470') on the SE side of Mt. Shasta, near McCloud, until June. But due to the drought, I guess, there wasn't any snow to impede their earlier arrival, and our trail cam recorded their first visit in May this year. When they first arrive, they are wearing their gray, shaggy winter coats.
Over the years, we've learned to always look out the window before stepping over to go out the glass sliding door as we never know who might be visiting the pond. If you go to the door first, you'll scare them away. We've actually found that the deer become accustomed to us outside and 'learn us' - but not by sight, by smell!! When we're in the house, they can't smell us and are much more easily spooked. Within about a month's time, their shaggy gray coats start turning to a pretty red and the buck's antlers start to appear. For much of the summer we see our bucks in velvet...so pretty!
Some of these photos we've taken ourselves, while others are taken by our trailcam, which is tied low on a tree trunk just 4' away from the pond. It was our trail cam (sometimes we call it our spy cam!) that recorded our first fawns on July 14th. We'd been able to tell that the does were pregnant, once we even saw the fawn kicking inside her and making her belly ripple, but the does know to hide their vulnerable newborns and they are already a couple weeks old when we first see them.
Watching them first experience water can be hilarious....they don't know it isn't solid, nor that they can't breathe it!! This year our first fawns at the pond were brought into the deep end, which was a little scary, but these two were the cautious type. One year we just missed 2 fawns' very first moments at the pond: short movie
But this year, as every year, the fawns eventually start to really enjoy getting INTO the pond and finding 'treasures' - and sometimes they even leave behind some: they've been seen pooping IN the pond! Really!!
It's always interesting to see how the individual deer interact with each other. Usually the bucks and does are in separate herds, but occasionally we see a pair of mixed sex, perhaps siblings(?), who are quite fond of each other. This year we had a doe with a singleton fawn, so perhaps a first time mother, and a buck who had just a spike, who interacted in unusual ways. We think they might have been siblings. She would come to the pond with her fawn, and he'd come too, and then he'd check out the fawn, the way other mammals do, with their noses. (Click on the images below to see the whole scene and larger size)
After being checked out by his uncle, the fawn scampered about nearby while his mom and uncle tried to be naughty and eat some of the Quaking Aspen leaves. I have bird netting around that tree, that I've grown from a 6" size, so they weren't very successful, plus, I scared them off!
But, as much as the groups above got along, our trailcam caught two does in quite a fight!! We have no idea what caused it.
And then we find it pretty hilarious that our deer often preen in front of the trailcam! And to us, it's like they are taking selfies!!
Usually most of the fawns seem to be born at about the same time, but this year a set of twins was noticeably older than the other fawns. We love how they wear paired stripes of spots along their back. Our imagination makes us think that perhaps when they are curled under the bushes, it looks like a stick. Whatever, we sure enjoy them as neighbors....AND now that WOLVES are in the area (we live within the new Shasta WOLF PACK's territory), they'll need that camoflauge more than ever! We also have cougar & bear, but cars and dogs kill more. Sadly, our largest fawn, who started coming in alone, was a car casualty....the pot growers and their laborers aren't known for loving the deer. This last fawn was found dead on the side of the road nearby the very next day ;-(.