Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The growing season

The other day I stepped out the back doors of the barn and thought I had a problem. There was a cat nestled down in the meadow about 10 feet away. Not hunkered in a stalking pose, but not sprawled for a nap in the sun either. It was on it's belly but perched alertly. That made me alertly alert.

You have to understand that the cats around here usually don't let me get within 30 feet of them without taking off like a shot let alone letting me approach to nearly within touching distance without even giving me an ear-flick. (You'd think being constantly snubbed like that might give me a complex or something, but really, I'm alright with it.)

Checking more closely I spotted an extra set of ears sticking up through the meadow grasses only about 5 feet from the cat's twitching nose. At first I thought it was a rabbit because we have a few that visit the bird feeder to chow down on the discards from above, but quickly realized this was something different and bad things were about to ensue!

Being the undisputed alpha male around here (In my own eyes anyway) I took it upon myself to put things right. But at the very instant I stepped out to put my own kind of predatory fear into the predatory cat, a tiny spotted fawn exploded up from its bed under the nose of said drooling cat and gangled rapidly off towards the pond a hundred yards away with its legs flying in all directions, some of which I'm pretty sure were impossible! It was gangling so rapidly its rear half threatened to pass the front half several times and there were a couple points along the way when the whole ungainly mass went more up than forward! But even so, it was only a few short seconds before the fawn disappeared over the bank of the pond.

The cat streaked off too, much more coordinately, and fortunately in a different direction, so I was left standing there, my loins all girded for battle but no battle in sight.  I still wonder what the doe had been thinking leaving its fawn bedded down so close to the barn like that.

A few days later I spotted the doe/fawn pair down by the pond. The fawn, as fawns do, had grown significantly in the mean time and had found its legs well enough to leap and splash along the water's edge. Of course by the time I got the camera up and aimed mom wasn't quite so amused anymore and she cut playtime short. If she had fingers I'm sure she would have been pointing two of them at her eyes then turning them around to point at me in the universal sign for 'I'm watching you buster'. Makes me wonder if I'm coming off as one of the bad guys in the version of events the fawn is telling everyone. . .

In other nature news:

As usual, two or three Cardinal pairs have set up housekeeping in the vicinity and this year it looks like we have a nesting pair of Painted Buntings joining us as well. As I type this I'm standing just inside the rear doors of the barn about 20 feet from the feeder and Doves are picking seeds from the ground and a Black Cap Chickadee is throwing more down. At least the male Cardinals do it as part of their courting ritual, throwing seeds down one at a time to the waiting females below then looking over the edge to make sure the object of his affection knows just who the gift is coming from, but I'm pretty sure the Chickadees and especially the Tufted Titmouse's (Titmice?) just throw seeds because they think it's fun!  At any rate, I expect that by early fall I will have refilled the bird feeder numerous times and it will be swarming with feathered adolescents.

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