All times PM
4:55:30 It is a dark day, chilly with a thin layer of snow on the ground. One of the favorite hunting perches for raptors in the Brodhead Conservation Area is being used today by a male Red-tailed Hawk. I'm told that he is known as Speed.
And he is giving me a look.
4:55:57 Then it is back to business. I don't know what he sees but he is looking at it fixedly.
4:56:06 A Red-tailed Hawk at this distance and much closer in Central Park would give me not the least time of day but here I could conceivably interrupt his hunt so I go on my way. I'll check back.
5:04:16 No action at the Teneyke Eagle Nest.
5:06:47 Further down the road, two White-tailed Deer interrupt their browsing to stare. I stop and stare and the does stare some more.
5:06:56 We stare at each other. Then left deer jumps round on her little hooves. Right dear continues to stare.
5:06:57 One second later her tail flips up and she's heading toward the woods. Hence the name, of course, White-tailed Deer. The top of her tail is the same color as the rest of her top side.
5:06:57 Within the same second, the second deer has turned, flipped tail up and they are running for cover.
5:06:58 Notice they aren't running straight for the woods, but rather doing a breaking run mixed with leaping. As to the white flipping tail, that is to attract the attention of the predator to the rear end of the animal, much in the same way most pigeons have a light rump patch that also attracts the eye and evolutionarily speaking gives a greater shot at survival. The end of the animal is gone by the time the predator leaps for the spot.
5:07:02 An excellent example of broken field running and that bright white under tail that catches the eye. Then something amazing happens. Hmm, the animal that waited is now the animal who is ahead.
5:07:02 Note this is the same second as the previous photograph. The lead deer leaps high in the air, (6 feet or so?) the tail comes down obscuring the white bottom of the tail and the white part of the rear of the deer.
5:07:03 It is one second later and by this point the second deer is doing nothing more than a less than speedy trot. Dum de dum...see the first deer back lit by the snow in the woods left?
Actually due to the behavior I'm beginning to think that the leaping deer is a stag. At this time of year, deer antlers are just beginning to grow so unless you check out the genitalia of a deer, which isn't all that easy, any deer could be either.
Here's an interesting factoid. Whitetail deer antlers are one of the fastest growing tissues known to man. Wow.
5:07:06 Back to our saga, he waits vigilant, and she trots toward the cover.
5:07:22 The doe stops and looks back at me.
5:07:36 Then she turns and ducks her head into what I now realize are raspberry brambles upon scrutiny. A reason that the stag may have leapt them I suppose. The doe ducks her head and flattens her ears. The stag now looks out into the area where I assume they will go next. Always vigilant.
5:07:38 And she's gone. And I go too.
To be continued...