Winter: the Leading Edge

Wintry conditions have finally arrived, as have visitors to the backyard feeders. The temperature in the image is deceiving: 20 to 30 mile-per-hour gusts of wind made it feel much colder!

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Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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Rutting Whitetails

The November rut is an exciting time for deer enthusiasts! It is a time when the wise  expect the unexpected: deer running and crashing through the woods; testosterone-driven bucks moving erratically, unaware of their surroundings (including highway traffic); mature bucks, invisible for most of their adult lives, moving about at all hours of the day and night. Breeding activity, specifically the chasing and tending phases, appears to have peaked last week. We’ll see the results in about 200 days – when the fawns arrive.

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Yearling buck searching for does on a frosty November morning

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Young buck coursing through the woods, searching for a doe

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2 1/2 year old buck scent-marking his territorial ground scrape

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Same buck “tending” a receptive doe during her 24 hour estrous (site is a fenced pasture)

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She might be at the end of her cycle because he didn’t breed her…

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Instead, his attention was diverted by the sight/smell of does entering a nearby field

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This guy is busy, with little time to eat! No wonder a buck can lose 25% of its body weight during the rut, especially when there are too many does in the herd

Photos by NB Hunter (early November, 2017). © All Rights Reserved.

 

Small Farms and Cultivated Fields: Priceless

In late spring patches and ribbons of vivid colors are dominant in open landscapes. The spectacular, multi-colored bloom is Dame’s Rocket, a garden escapee gone wild.

Invariably, my interest in this wildflower opens my eyes to the visual resources beyond the bloom. Fields, mostly cultivated fields on local dairy farms, become a subject of interest.

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Dame’s Rocket in full bloom 

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Front to back: Dame’s Rocket, grain fields and woodlands (8June2017)

The appeal of cultivated fields is much more than the dynamic beauty of line, color and texture through the seasons. They’re wildlife magnets, providing critical habitat for a host of opportunistic birds and mammals.

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Buck in velvet, foraging on new growth following the first cutting of hay (27June2017)

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Hen turkey foraging in a hay field; there might be youngsters underfoot, chasing hoppers {1July2017)

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Lingering storm clouds after days of torrential rains and damaging flood waters (1July2017)

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Red-winged blackbird foraging in a field of barley (1July2017)

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A hay field colonized by wild black mustard (30June2017)

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Orchard grass, a common forage plant in hay fields (27June2017)

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

The Joy of Spring

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Skunk Cabbage leaves unfolding

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Chippy after a field trip to the bird feeder

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The female flower of a Norway Spruce tree

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Eurasian honeysuckle, an invasive shrub, in full bloom

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A mature doe reaching above my protective fencing to nibble on the new growth of a young apple tree; deer are losing their winter coats and look pretty ragged

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Morels in a maple-hemlock woodlot

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A fat and happy Red Squirrel framed in dandelion seed heads

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Osprey after an incredible 30 meter dive into the shallow water of a large pond

Gone fishing………………………………….

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

The Solitary Doe

White-tailed deer are social animals, and multi-generational family groups of does and fawns are the norm. That said, this young doe has been alone since last fall (I see her once or twice a week while trail walking) and is now including the bird feeders in her daily routine. I suspect the family group was broken up due to hunting season or highway mortality.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.