Mid-fifties temperatures made it a cool,comfortable stroll over to the Studio this morning. These guys were waiting for me part way down the driveway where it emerges from the woods. They are some of the resident critters who regularly visit me. There are quite a few other bucks and a number of does and fawns, including one thin doe, Skinny Girl, who often sleeps between the shrubs and the foundation wall of the studio in the front. She knows it’s a safe spot. Many of these deer have grown up within sight of the studio and know they are secure within a certain area. It’s been interesting to watch many of them grow up.
This time of year the bucks, like this group, still travel through the woods together, not yet ready to begin their annual display of strength where they establish their dominance in an area for rutting. In a month or two the strongest buck will clash with and chase off the weaker and younger bucks. There is a large, thick bodied 10 or 12 point buck, not part of this shown group, that shows up periodically and seems like the dominant buck. He even makes a different sound when he runs, pounding the ground with his heaviness. It’s a frenzied time for the deer when the mating rut begins and the big bucks exert their dominance but for now they happily coexist.
Along with the deer, there are plenty of other residents who regularly show up around the house and the studio. There are small groups of turkeys who like the deer, are grouped together by sex at this time. A flock of seven or eight toms regularly stroll through pecking at everything, hopefully hoovering up all of the ticks that abound in these woods. They seem pretty at home and not too skittish when they see me unlike the group of hens who rush off through the underbrush at the first glimpse.
There is also a regular parade of squirrels, chipmunks, woodchucks, skunks (although they haven’t been as regular a visitor this year), raccoons, foxes, coyotes and a periodic bobcat. I am sure I am missing someone here but I know they will show up soon to remind me..
Then there are the many birds who inhabit these woods and regularly visit the pond. The caw of the crow, the squawk of the jay, the distinct call of the thrush and the wacky cackle of the pileated woodpecker often echo through the woods, along with the sounds of the black birds, chickadees, titmice, mourning doves and my favorites, the cardinals. It must be the red.
We’ve had large ospreys visit the pond with a huge splash as they dive for fish and herons who take a quieter approach, often seeming like pieces of sculpture as they wait without any motion at all for a frog or small fish to come within their reach. And then there are the swallows and bats diving and dancing in the sky above the pond as they help keep down the bugs. And there’s the red-tailed hawk who hovers around, menacing the other birds. And at night, the hoot of the owls comes out of the blackness.
It all gives me a real Peaceable Kingdom (like the famous folk paintings from Edward Hicks) kind of feeling watching so many of these critters coexisting and allowing me to be part of the group. Not a bad feeling on a cool Saturday morning.