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White-tailed buck

White-tailed deer are a common sight in the backyards and roadways of Montgomery Township.

White-tailed deer are a common sight in the backyards and roadways of Montgomery Township. It's common to see deer grazing peacefully on lawns, nibbling on shrubs and plants, or cautiously exploring their surroundings. Montgomery Township also has woodlands, open spaces, and proximity to water sources, which provide a habitat for these deer.

White-tailed deer have adapted remarkably well to the suburban landscapes of this region. However, as deer populations grow, the deer frequently overbrowse, destroying gardens and native vegetation. Efforts to balance preserving the deer's habitat and protecting homeowners' landscapes and the native flora have led to strategies for deer management, which include year deer hunting from September to February.

I saw this young buck through the kitchen window. This individual was grazing on the grass, moving north. I grabbed my super telephoto and stepped onto the backyard deck for a photo. He heard me, stopped to check me out, decided I was not a threat, and then moved on.

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) · October 27, 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

In Montgomery Township, most residents don't appreciate the presence of white-tailed deer. They tend to cross roadways at random, leading to many car accidents. Even a tiny deer can lead to hundreds of dollars of damage to a car, sometimes destroying the car beyond repair. I've had many deer accidents in my 20 years of driving in New Jersey.

Black-legged ticks (aka deer ticks) are often found on deer due to the animals' frequent trips into wooded areas and tall grasses where ticks reside. Lyme disease is a significant health concern because deer ticks carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. When I am out and about in the woods hiking or for photography, especially in areas where ticks are prevalent, I wear appropriate clothing sprayed with repellents to reduce the risk of tick bites. I also do tick checks and showers after spending time outdoors.

Do Tomatoes Self Seed?

These persistent cherry tomatoes keep coming back to my garden year after year.

An acquaintance and I were chatting on iMessage about all sorts of things – from big pharma and religion to bird snaps and gardening. An odd mix, I know, but that's how my neurodivergent brain likes it.

He popped the question, "Growing any veggies lately?" I mentioned the cherry tomatoes on display in the backyard, and he replied that he hadn't planted any tomato plants this year, but a plant had started growing in the spot where they used to be. I assumed tomatoes were self-seeding, but I did a quick Google search to verify. Yep, I was right.

Self-sowing annuals are those plants that toss their seeds into the garden before calling it quits. Those seeds sprout all on their own the next year. They come back yearly, just like perennials, but it's from their seeds, not their roots. They're playing a game of tag with themselves!

I've had tomato vines in the same spot every year since I put four plants in a couple of years ago. They just won't quit!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Hummingbirds are a challenge to photograph.

So, I recently learned that there are four kinds of hummingbirds in New Jersey, but three are rare. I've only spotted the Ruby-throated ones. The bird in these photographs is either a juvenile or female Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

I'm a big fan of tiny birds, especially hummingbirds. The Ruby-throated Hummingbird beats its wings about 53 times a second. Their speedy movements are fascinating to watch. I've wanted to take pictures of them for ages, and since they like red or orange flowers, over the years, I planted some Eastern Columbine in my balcony garden planter to attract them.

Now and then, I've spotted Ruby-throated Hummingbirds near the flowers, but Eastern Columbine only blossoms in Late Spring to Early Summer, which is a bit of a bummer. I decided to get a hummingbird feeder for the balcony, and that's when I started seeing the Ruby-throated ones more. Taking their picture through the glass door was a pain, though – too reflective. Then there's our cat, Alphonso Mango (we call him Alphie). He loves sunbathing on the balcony, and I was worried he might be a threat to the birds.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird · Friday 18 August 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

So, I moved the feeder to the backyard, hanging it under some woody vines near the edge of the fence. It took a week or two, but the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds eventually found it. I figured out when they usually visited the feeder in the mornings and late afternoons, and I'd sit and wait for them. Shooting in the late afternoon light was tricky, and I had to use ISO 12,800 on my Fuji X-T3. The photos had a lot of digital noise, but I made them look better thanks to Adobe Lightroom's Denoise feature.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Ruby-throated Hummingbird · Friday 18 August 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

I'm still chasing that perfect shot of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird in flight, but these pictures are the best I can do now.

This weeks LAPC reminds me thats it almost a year since my first visit to The Edge.