A cool morning with drizzling rain led me to think I might find deer feeding on apples well past daybreak. I saw a buck at close range, but he stayed in the shadows in dense undergrowth, just beyond the wild apple trees. Another half mile and I was in a brushy meadow bordering an old apple orchard. This time there were no deer to be found, so I checked the goldenrod and knapweed blooms for something of interest.
Today’s discovery was a Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia), a common Arachnid of gardens, field edges and similar habitats.
Garter snakes, our most common serpent, have been underfoot and slithering around all over the place since the warm, dry weather arrived. They add a bit of excitement and interest to the landscape (my dog freaks out over a shed skin!), and are beneficial predators.
The forked tongue is a marvelous sensory organ with multiple functions: taste and smell. It is in constant motion, sampling airborne as well as soil particles.
The Central New York weather forecast predicts a high of about 90 today, but extremely high humidity will make it feel more like 95 (F). My outdoor activities tail off noticeably in this type of weather, prompting me to respond with a cheery image captured when the wind-chill temperature was about 100 degrees less than it is now!
Snowy Owl at rest on a cold winter morning; January, 2014
The wild apple trees are loaded this year! It’s a bumper crop of fruit that will feed wildlife, especially deer, for several months and help sustain them through the winter. Some varieties start dropping apples in late summer and others retain their persistent fruit well into autumn, even into the winter months. White-tails love apples and are tuned into this cycle. They’re already foraging heavily on the early drops.
This post features a young buck that I first observed in October, 2014 when he was a 4-month-old button buck. We had many close encounters over the next 7-8 months, but he was invisible for most of the summer. Fallen apples lured him back into view, within camera range in good light! Facial markings and notches in his left ear are identifying features. I hope to see him again in a month or so, when his small antlers are polished, in order to complete his story.
Most of our wild apples are too large to swallow whole and must be chewed with the molars in the back of the mouth. This may be the only thing that a deer does not do gracefully, and the process of getting an apple from the ground to the stomach can be quite entertaining!
The tedious manipulation of large quantities of apples warrants an occasional break to relax and groom ….