Two Fawns at Sweetbriar

Thursday, August 11, 2022,

I spent this past Sunday as I always do: volunteering at Sweetbriar Nature Center. It’s my favorite day of the week. I love working with the animals, and I love interacting with the public. I meet so many good folks. I may be tired at the end of the day, but I am always smiling.

As I was getting ready to leave, I spied a pair of fawns in the south field. Luckily, I happened to have one of my cameras with me. I didn’t have my big lens, but my 200mm was lens enough. It rocks in the low light of the early evening, which is just one of the reasons I like it so much. 

Anyways, back to the story at hand. Upon seeing the fawns, I grabbed my camera and began shooting. As must be obvious from these shots, they knew I was there, but allowed me to take my pics. They took turns being brave. In the first two photos, we have Fawn One. In the last photo, you can see Fawn Two. Gross as this may be to mention, the placement of tics on their ears helps to differentiate between the two. Also, the notching on Fawn Two’s ears, which are probably a result of insects or infections, are another way to discern differences between the two.

There’s a chance that I know who the mother of these two beauties is, but I won’t know till later in the season, when Mama White-tails start showing up with their kids as a whole family. In the spring and much of the summer, the does tend to keep their kids hidden. This is largely a safety issue, although who knows? Maybe the Moms are just waiting to make sure their kids aren’t total jerks. Or, worse, possibly by hiding their kids, they’re trying to remain on the singles circuit.  🙂    JK


Peaches and I: The Monkees Edition

Monday, November 8, 2021,

In an earlier post I floated the idea of including some of my adventures at Sweetbriar Nature Center, and the response was all positive. So, this is the first of those posts. Rather than ease you nice folks into it, I’ve decided to plunge head-first into the deep end of the pool. I hope you guys can swim.

This is Peaches. She’s a Moluccan Cockatoo, which are also known as Salmon-crested cockatoos. These are large birds with very powerful beaks, so you want to make sure that they like you before attempting to get this close. Luckily, Peaches does, indeed, like me very much. I spend time with her every Sunday, and we will often sing and dance together, usually to The Beatles. I sing*, she dances. We’re breaking tradition a bit here, as I had decided, spontaneously, to serenade her with the theme to The Monkees. She doesn’t seem to mind, even when I insult her breath.  JK

*Obviously, I have a broad definition of the word “sing”.  🙂



Meet #150

Wednesday, October 22, 2020,

This handsome beast is a male Box Turtle. He doesn’t have an official name but he does have a number. And a tag. Number 150 lives on the grounds of Sweetbriar Nature Center. He’s not a pet, nor is he an “inmate” or one of our rehab turtles. He’s a free roaming Box Turtle with full access to the full 54 acres that Sweetbriar has to offer. 

It is probably natural to question how such a turtle has a number or is even recognized at all. The answers to both of those queries are fairly simple but you can count on me to be a bit long-winded in my explanation. You’re lucky to be reading this because I’m even worse in person. I can edit myself in print, not so much while I’m speaking. 

If you’re a regular reader, you know that I am a long-time volunteer at Sweetbriar Nature Center. Sweetbriar is a nature based educational organization as well as a wildlife rehabilitation center. During the course of each year, we have several large events in which we need to mow the open fields to allow room for parking. Being a wildlife rehab center we certainly don’t want any of our native residents getting injured. In the weeks prior to the mowing, we have teams of volunteers walk the fields in search of Box Turtles. Any turtles that are found are documented and put into enclosures for safe keeping. Documentation generally involves the when and where, especially the where, as we want to return each turtle back to its own home turf. 

We also measure and weigh each turtle so we can keep tabs on their growth and general health. Speaking of health, any turtle that we find gets a checkover and any needed treatment. We take good care of our friends. 

Most of the turtles found in previous years have been “tagged” in one way or another. This is usually a numbered tag that has been glued to the turtle’s shell. The tag allows us to recognize particular turtles. In the past few years we have also photographed each turtle. This comes in handy if and when a tag falls off. Each Box Turtle has its own markings on both its shell and face, much like fingerprints. 

It has often been my lot to identify turtles by photo when a tag is not present. Something to do with me being a photographer with an eye for detail. Truth be told, my eye for minor details has come in handy on occasion but it can be a tedious process. On the other hand, examining minute details of Box Turtle markings is an illuminating experience. So many intricate designs, so many minor differences. This particular chore is not as terrible as it may seem.

So, back to #150. This has been a weird year because of COVID. Sweetbriar hasn’t been able to hold any large events, so we haven’t had the need to sweep the open fields for Box Turtles. This does not mean that we have given up on keeping track of the turtles on the grounds. When we find one, we still give it the once over and document the encounter. As it happens, I spotted #150 making his way across the back lawn recently. He had been tagged but apparently never photographed. I took care of that. It turns out that #150 hadn’t been seen for five years. This is not unusual when you consider that Sweetbriar is situated on 54 acres. There’s no way to keep track of every turtle in such a large area.  Number #150 was in perfect health so we set him on his way. I hope to run into him again. JK.

The Blue Jay Story

Saturday, August 22, 2020,


I was visiting the Rehab Room at Sweetbriar back in August of 2017 when one of our resident Blue Jays decided to perch upon my head. This was not an unusual occurrence as she would often perch on our heads or shoulders, or backs or pretty anywhere else she pleased. The only unusual thing about this was that she could find purchase on my bald and freshly waxed head.

I took a photo of the Blue Jay – I think it was Marguerite – and posted it on Facebook. One of my friends commented, “Looks like she laid an egg!”

And that is the Blue Jay Story.  JK.