Last week the weather got very cold again after the taste of warm weather on the weekend. I think it was on Thursday as i was leaving for work (at 5:40 a.m.) that i noticed that i was hearing birds singing again! Some bluebirds were twittering somewhere, robins and bluejays were calling, and the mourning doves were cooing, even though the ground was still frozen hard. And of course i noticed that there was actually a tiny amount of light in the sky at that hour.
By Saturday the temperature climbed to the 60s. Lovely! It was the first Saturday of the month, which meant it was my Saturday to volunteer at the Audubon Sanctuary Book Shop. The book shop is in what was probably part of the kitchen of Woodend when it was a mansion (the house and 40 acres were bequeathed to the Audubon Naturalist Society of the MidAtlantic States in 1968.) The grounds are still mostly woods, with a little pond and wetlands area, and nice self-guided walking trails. The neighborhood now has grown up around it, so it really is a little island of nature in the suburbs. It's just a short distance to the Beltway but it's also quite near Rock Creek Park.) It was a relatively quiet day. I did get to help a family find a couple of books about fun things to do in the area in terms of hikes and canoe trips.
As i was getting ready to leave, a staff member came back inside to say a deer was eating at the bird feeder. She wasn't kidding...the deer was standing under the feeder, licking the feed out of it!! It was a tube-type feeder that's supposed to be squirrel proof hanging from a pole...if a squirrel manages to get on the feeder, the tube slides shut and the squirrels can't get at the feed. It might have been squirrel proof, but it wasn't deer proof...it was at exactly the right height for the doe to reach by extending her neck and tipping her head back a little bit, and she licked and licked, getting her tongue into the feeder opening and eating the seed! Then she grazed for a little while on the seed on the ground. Just as i got my cellphone out to try to take a picture, she slowly walked away across the driveway and into the scrubby woods next to the parking lot.
I walked to my car, and realized that the crunching noises i heard were deer walking around in the underbrush. It took a moment to see them...their brown grey winter coats blend in very well with the brown grey woods!...and then i realized i was looking at two partially grown fawns (probably born in the fall) and three does and they were walking around in the woods, nibbling on brambles. Then i saw two more does! The whole group quietly drifted out onto the far end of the parking lot, next to the shed where we store the birdfeed that we sell...i'm sure they were checking to see if anyone might have spilled some bird feed there.