Do You See What I See?

Although I've seen pictures and heard verbal accounts of such a thing before, today I got to see a most unusual sight.  With winter having FINALLY arrived in full force, Karen and I were for the most part staying warm while tying flies in the parlor, when I happened to glance out back. Above the sledding hill behind the cottage, a movement caught my eye. Snow and ice from the season's opening storm covered all but those portions of the slope with the most favorable aspect to the bright noonday sunshine, which is likewise unusual here in this season. A little known 'fact': someone told me Garrett County 'enjoys' the second highest frequency of dull cloudy winter days of anyplace in the lower 48 states, bested only be Olympic Peninsula.  Of all the things to excel in, and me prone to seasonal-affected disorder!

Partially against the snow, and partially against some dark green hemlock boughs I focused in on "hmmm...just what IS that, exactly?"  Wildlife sitings are fairly routine here and I'd thought we'd seen it all many times over. This creature was a bit too tall at the shoulder to be a domestic dog and at once somehow both familiar and bizarre. Only gradually did I realize I was looking at an albino whitetail deer.  It was as if my eyes and/or brain were playing tricks on me, and I had to take a confirmatory look to believe them!

This was a modest sized animal, and it was confidently grazing on some of the many black-eyed susan clumps we've been trying to spread over that hill for many years now.  Experience has shown that these are among the favorite planted-by-us menu items of deer, which might partially explain our slow progress on that front.

Thinking it would be nice to photograph the occurrence, I whipped a camera from my right trouser leg's cargo pocket. Although there was essentially no chance the animal could have observed this, quite naturally the white-coated deer chose this moment to mosey along slowly directly behind the cottage. All too soon it was out of view, at least from the deck.  Thus I went out the front entrance and around the now icy path down towards the pond, but wearing as I was a black hoodie (anti-camouflage against the snow)and shoes with insufficient tread, the odds were not with me. Sure enough the snow-deer turned up missing when I finally gained what should have provided a better perspective from the head of the pond. But it could have been standing in plain sight one-hundred yards away for all I could tell.

Later, after attending to as much of the routine stream maintenance tasks as my hands could comfortably take in the sub-freezing air, I came back inside.  Fixing a cup of instant coffee, more as something to hold than to drink, Karen shared that she'd seen not only the albino in front of the cottage, but apparently its normally pigmented mother as well. What a wonderful opportunity I thought, to snap a shot - but probably correctly, Karen had not bothered. Given how little contrast the smaller one offers against a white background, we'll have to put a salt block in a more strategic location to try and provide documentary evidence of its existence.  But being as how it is currently hunting season, I might have to get on that pretty quickly.

Eastern Steelhead Trout

Beautiful eastern steelhead trout... caught and released...