Not safe out there tonight

We’d had a light rain but it had stopped, and I was curious to see if anything was stirring in the backyard – the Insouciant Mr Bugg and I had been out earlier and hadn’t seen a lot, but what we did see will be coming in a later post. Anyway, shining the headlamp around, I was concentrating on the typical locations that have shown photographic subjects, which for me means down low, or occasionally along the fence. But as I cut across the yard, I aimed the lamp a little higher and was suddenly greeted by three pairs of glowing eyes. Close. Like, just a little past the fence itself.

I suppose some people would get at least a little creeped out by this, if not openly startled, but I’ve seen it too many times before; I was slightly confused by their apparent height, which was much lower than expected, just barely clearing the top of the fence. But the separation of each eye in the pairs (you know, left and right) told me what I was looking at, and a hint of the ears confirmed it. They were simply lying down, just on the opposite side of a utility right-of-way that runs immediately behind the fence. What impressed me was that they stayed put, even as I crossed the backyard not 15 meters from them, even as I went in and came back out with the camera.

trio of white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus lying in ivy outside backyard
This was taken from the upper deck, at only slight magnification over a normal perspective, but has been lightened slightly to bring out just a little more detail – even the Metz 40MZ-3i has its limits. While they were all looking directly at me while I was focusing (by only the light of the headlamp, so all I could see were the eyes,) I couldn’t get them to keep looking once I locked focus and tripped the shutter – one of them was always peering off someplace else. Must be kids.

These are, of course, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus,) and appear to be fairly young – and surprisingly blasé, since they never even stood up despite my presence. I have mixed feeling about the deer around here; they’re attractive animals and generally photogenic, but they’ve become way too enamored of the front yard and have done more than passing damage to some of the ornamental plants that we’re spending money on. I’ve remarked before that deer semi-regularly trim my almond tree, but now they’re routinely stripping half of the leaves from the decorative sweet potatoes right alongside the front steps, and even having a go at The Girlfriend’s hibiscus. We stopped the sweet potato damage by putting a potted basil plant right in front of them – deer don’t like the sharp smell of the basil and keep away from it – and now I guess we’ll have to have basil alongside everything else that we want to keep. None of the other control methods have worked.

Anyway, more coming in a little bit.

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