Monday, June 9, 2008

The First Fawn Of The Year

The First Fawn Arrives

Surprisingly the doe I featured in the last post has not yet given birth, but some of the other does in the herd that visits the meadow apparently have. It can be difficult to tell for sure because some of the older does that have had fawns several times before may still appear pregnant if one looks only at the distended abdomen. It is best to look in front of the hips. If that area is sunken and the ribs and other bony structures stand out, it is certain that birth has occurred. The doe in the photo below illustrates this well, but few deer show it to this extent. This deer is eight years old and in good health. She has had one or two fawns each year since 2003 and always looks thin and bony in the summer.

Canon 40D: 100--400mmL at 310mm 1/90 f5.6 ISO 500

She missed coming to the meadow on Thursday evening, but I saw her at a distance and her flanks appeared to be sunken. On Friday evening she brought a fawn to the meadow. I videotaped the fawn nursing at very close range and then went to get the still camera. The deer had moved off some distance when I returned, but I was still able to get a good photograph with the 100-400mm lens.

Canon 40D: 100--400mmL at 400mm 1/250 f5.6 ISO 400

On Saturday morning she came to the meadow without the fawn and stayed a short time. When she left I followed at a discreet distance with the video camera on the tripod and the 40D on my chest with the 300mm lens attached and the 75-200 in my camera bag. The doe went through some thickets and woods along a roadside so I was able to walk in the roadway. Eventually I saw her stop in some thick brush and then I saw a little head bobbing about. I spent the next fifteen minutes or so taking video footage of the fawn feeding.

Eventually they went in to a more open area and I carefully followed behind. At one point I recorded them interacting at close range. Soon I had a satisfactory amount of video so I changed to the DSLR and took several shots with both lenses. Only a few were keepers, as the light was less than ideal in many instances and the animals were continually moving in and out of areas where plant growth interfered with getting a good composition.

Canon 40D: 70-200mmL at 200mm 1/180 f3.5 ISO 500

Canon 40D: 300mm F4 L at 1/180 f4 ISO 500

We were almost back to the meadow by the time the last photos were taken. This is classic whitetail behavior in that the deer did not return to the fawn directly but took a long, looping route to go to it, while it was hidden only a short distance from the meadow if she had walked straight to it.

At this point it is not clear if she has just this fawn or if there are twins. The does hide twins in separate places for the first few weeks after birth to increase their chances of survival. (A coyote or bear would have to find each one in separate encounters, rather than being able to kill both in one instance)

30 comments:

Old Wom Tigley said...

Hi Willard...
Great captures and information. The fawn is cute as I'm sure many others will say... I thinkit would be such a pleasure to have witnessed this, all those long hours sat here waiting have paid off.. When I see these shots I understand the time and hardwork involved.. and the commitment to be there at these times. I really take my hat off to you and say 'Well done' and 'thank you'.

The other thing I noticed was the meadow and the wildness of the area..Great post.

Bradley Myers said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and photographs. For me this is amazing. I envy your ability to be able to get close enought and have the knowledge to due this.

I love photographing wildlife, but am always satified when I can enjoy this in the wild weather I get the photo or not. Thanks

Kerri said...

Absolutely SUPERB Willard! One of my all time favorite posts!
Love seeing the little guy and knowing that his Mom is doing everything she can to protect him.

fishing guy said...

Willard: I really love those last two photos with the one with the mother being my favorite. Your talent with wildlife and their habits are amazing. You have to be one of the best at making these captures and you certainly have a wealth of animals to choose from for your shot. Keep these great shots coming and thanks for sharing them with us.

Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Well, the fawns have arrived. Or at least one for now. Awesome photography!! What a cutie, indeed! Again, I don't know what we would do without your awesome alertness and patience... thank you, Willard! Will keep tuned in.
Mountain Retreat

Daryl said...

Amazing shots ...

Old Wom sent me over and I am sure glad he did!

:-Daryl

Texas Travelers said...

Great photos.

I just noticed that I had lost your link in my side bar. I have added you back in the "Nature Blogs" blog roll.

I always enjoy your photos and posts.

Come visit anytime,
Troy

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Wonderful, Willard, the photos and the words, both of which have captured this wonderful experience.

How interesting that deer hide their young twins in separate locations. Very crafty thinking! Isn't it amazing how smart animals are?

Mary said...

What a beautiful little fawn and your information about it is very helpful! How nice to get to watch all this happening. Wonderful post!

Abraham Lincoln said...

These are as good as good ever gets, Willard. Beautiful photography.

RAMOSFOREST.ENVIRONMENT said...

Great taken and information. Nature thanks you.

nonizamboni said...

Olde Tom sent me your way, and I'm so glad he did! What amazing photos of your favorite doe and her new baby...love the closeups of the fawn.
These photos made my day, actually. Thanks for sharing.

The Texican said...

On old Wom Tigley's recommendation. Very nicely presented. The photos, and the commentary are excellent. Pappy

Kim said...

Your photos are amazing. That last photos is beautiful.

Carletta said...

WOW! How beautiful. I know you must enjoy what you do everyday - this is awesome!

Jeanne said...

Beautiful and what great information to share too.

Outhouse Capital of Canada said...

I came here by way of Wom Tiggly, very interesting post there with the deer, great photoghraphy.

alicesg said...

Lovely photos. Awwwww....the fawn looked so innocent and so cute. Thanks for sharing.

imac said...

Willard, This has been such a pleasure to read and look at a 1st class post.
Such fantastic work and time has gone into this and its fantastic to see. Many thanks for sharing this act of Nature.

Ida said...

Beautiful and cute.
Great captures! :)

Stacey Huston said...

Good morning willard. Great post and beautiful photos as always.. I stumbled upon two antelope fawns yesterday..but they were up and moving so fast, I barely had time to snap a few(sad and shakey) shots before they just kept running and running.. and runnning..lol..not sure where they were going but it was definately in a hurry..lol

Lilli & Nevada said...

Well Tom said to stop over and here and check out your baby fawn, sure glad i came over as it was well worth it. Nothing is cuter than a baby deer

DeeMom said...

OH Willard, what a wonderful post Photos and all are so GRAND

Shellmo said...

The fawn photos were amazing- they are such beautiful and vulnerable creatures.

lv2scpbk said...

The first photo you can see the ribs. I know you say she's in good health, but from that one, it doesn't look like it. Love the fawn photos.

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

I wandered over here from Tom's blog. Loved your deer photography and all the fabulous information. I have just seen our first fawn of the season in the fields and meadows. I imagine I will be seeing them every evening now that the hay is being cut for the season.

Willard said...

Barb,
She has looked that thin in summer every since she started having fawns. I suspect it is because she has a genetic makeup that tends toward thinness. Combine that with the strain of nursing one or two young animals with voracious appetites and I think that is why she looks that way!

Dina said...

Willard, these are priceless pictures of new life! Thanks for all your efforts of getting and sharing them and for teaching us about deer family life.

Marvin said...

An excellent series of photos and great information. I didn't know that a doe kept twin fawns separated when they were young.

Marvin said...

Me again. My wife and I recently experience exactly what you have discussed in this post. First, we saw a doe in the same area several days in a row on our walk. We figured she had a fawn around and, sure enough, after about a week we saw her with a fawn. Then, about 10 days later, we saw her with twin fawns. Too bad I'm stuck with a wide angle lens on my camera.