The neighbors

Living on the edge of the woods is a good thing. For some reason, a small herd of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has taken to visiting roughly around 2:30 PM some days, and when the temperature is cool enough that I can leave the window open, I can hear them foraging. This one was a little surprised to see someone appear in the doorway so close by, but I wasn’t moving enough to spook her off, and she provided several nice portrait poses.

Deer are foragers, rather than grazers, which means they don’t eat grasses like cows or sheep. Instead, they seek new saplings, leaves, vines, shoots, and berries – and on occasion, garden plants and The Girlfriend’s tomatoes and peppers. In this area, they make things a little more convenient for forest wanderers like myself, because they’ll keep “greenbrier” (the colloquial name, I’m not sure of the exact species) at bay, a tough wandering vine that sports large thorns. Greenbrier can quickly turn shaded woods into impenetrable thickets, and makes walking among the trees a chore at times, but deer like it and their regular visits will keep the vine from gaining a firm hold.

Yesterday afternoon, I added some water to the thirsty potted salvia I have sitting on my railing, and as the water pooled on the soil surface before soaking in, a tiny face appeared among the leaves, startled by the sudden flood. This began a tortuous session of macro photography, as the juvenile Common Grey Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) did not want to hold still for the giant lens looming in its face, and kept hiding under the leaves. Right now, as I type this, it has ventured out of the pot and is working its way along the railing. This has me a little curious, since both of these species are primarily nocturnal and the days have been unseasonably hot, all the more reason to hole up during the days. 6:30 PM is a little early to see treefrogs getting active – night won’t fall for about another two hours.

Treefrogs have distinctive toes, ending in a broad and moist pad that lets them cling to vertical surfaces effortlessly. In fact, it can be a little startling to see them jump against a wall and remain there instead of bouncing off. This trait lets them forage for food high in the tree canopies without needing claws, and also lets them scale rocks, leaves, and yes, even people that attempt to grab them. You can get an idea of the size of this specimen by my ugly thumb, included in this shot for scale. I normally see them much larger than this.

It’s a little late in the season for mating calls, so I’m not expecting to hear anything from my neighbor when it gets dark, but we’ll see what happens. I’ll probably leave a light on near the potted plant and railing, to attract the flying insects that serve as frog food. I might as well make it feel at home, since it provided enough photos for me – hey, I’m a dude ;-)

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