I was away on international travel for several weeks, and then my regular schedule on Naked Mountain was interrupted by Hurricane Sandy. But a couple of weeks before Sandy hit, on October 20th, I snapped the picture on the header from my deck as the sun was lowering. The fall colors have been beautiful and the sunsets spectacular!
Today, was bright, sunny and a warm 60 degrees. I decided to go for a good, long walk down my road. But before I set out I watched a white-tailed deer, a young, two-point buck, making his way gingerly through the yard. The creature was so graceful, but unfortunately also destructive. When there are too many deer their browsing of tender tree shoots can keep a forest from regenerating. On Naked Mountain, I have noticed that a number of wildflowers have been diminishing due to deer browsing. At the urging of the Virginia Natural Heritage Program stewards who help me manage the preserve, I have arranged for a neighbor to hunt deer. Steve, who is featured in the August 23rd Blog entitled, “Stymied,” is a very experienced and safe hunter. He has erected two deer stands on the preserve and he has already spent a few days hunting this fall season on Naked Mountain. Even though I want deer controlled on Naked Mountain to protect forest habitat for all the myriad species that depend on it, I did whisper to the gentle creature tiptoeing through my yard to, “Watch out for Steve!”
On my walk down the road I saw, and heard, some other denizens of Naked Mountain. A Pileated woodpecker was noisily working the trees, jerking its way up one side, then winding around the back of the tree and jerking its way up to the top speaking loudly the whole time. I often see pairs or threesomes of these striking woodpeckers on Naked Mountain. They remind me of flying dinosaurs with their long, pointed beaks and their bony
red-crested profile that is exaggerated by the black and white stripes on their cheeks and necks. Pileateds need about 300 acres of forest to successfully breed. I love seeing them in pairs on Naked Mountain. It is direct confirmation of the importance of establishing a natural area preserve and working to protect the habitat that allows this species to survive even though it means destroying some members of other species that are in harmful abundance.