I went on a wild owl hunt early this morning at Assateague Island National Seashore and came up empty handed. But I did find some amazing creatures that I least expected.
Sika Deer are small members of the elk family and were introduced to Maryland in the early 1900’s. Smaller than the White tailed deer that I frequently see on my outings, these deer are mainly seen on Maryland’s Eastern shore. Each time I’m out there visiting Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas I hope I’ll find some Sika Deer. White tailed deer aplenty, but I never did set my eyes on any Sika Deer.
At long last when least expected, several of them greeted me at dawn on the road leading into the National Seashore. At first I wasn’t sure if I was really looking at a Sika Deer as I’m familiar with Island Key Deer that I’ve seen in places like Fripp Island, South Carolina and on the National Key Deer Refuge in the Florida Keys.
The first grouping were of four deer and they were heading into the swampy brush for the day, but did take a moment to look back and pose for me. They are smaller than white-tailed deer with a black strip down the back near their tail with spots on them. Their head and ears seem stocky and fluffy and the tails poof up when in alarm.
I continued down the road and found a doe with her older fawn. The little one was inquisitive and gave me a few moments of quiet between us.
And then they did something I had never seen before – they BOUNCED away. Yep, bounced on all four feet like they were bouncing on a trampoline. I’ve since learned that this is known as ‘pronking.’ It was the funniest, cutest thing I’ve ever seen and I could watch them pronk all day long.
These images were captured with my Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II with the 300mm Pro lens attached which gives me a 600mm equivalent. With exceptional image stabilization, this is a great kit for low light. But actually, I was too close to the deer and really wish I had pulled out my Canon with the 100-400mm lens attached.
I was so thrilled to finally have set eyes on these deer and hope that I get to enjoy their company again soon.