Camp Companions: the Deer, the Birds, and the Whales

Waking up here at Camp Casey means visiting with the deer, the birds and possibly the whales. The cabin I’m staying in faces a wide, sloping field that deer (most with their babies) like to forage in, mostly early in day, but sometimes at odd hours too. I know some people deer have an on-again, off-again relationship with deer, and liken them to pests, but here it feels as if we’re the interlopers.

Of course, with so much rapid development of rural areas everywhere, deer are losing their natural habitats, so it’s no surprise now how close they live to our homes and towns. Here’s what I’ve learned about deer from the island natives.

Spring and summer are the time of year deer give birth to their young. A deer may have between 1 and 3 babies. Fawns are born from April though June, so the ones we’re seeing here at Camp Casey are still pretty young. Fawns are born with their eyes open and fully furred. They can stand up on their legs in 10 minutes and can walk in 7 hours!

But here’s the thing to know: healthy baby fawns are daily left alone by their mothers while the mothers forage for food. Here, we often see a lone fawn resting in the grass on the side of the road. If you don’t know that this is normal, you’d mistakenly think the fawn had been abandoned. Important to know, since fawns are mistakenly “rescued” run into trouble if they’re taken away from their mothers for too long.

In addition to deer, and all kinds of birds flitting and diving amongst the blackberry brambles, one of the joys of Camp Casey is the very real possibility of sighting whales. The camp sits right on Admiralty Inset and if you have time and patience, there’s a good chance you’ll spot a pod frolicking out in the strait. Last night, I spotted a grouping of three orcas, most from likely one of the local pods that reside here in the summer months, J, K, or L pod. This in spite of the fact that the Whidbey air base at Oak Harbor had their pilots out practicing landing and take-off manuevers.

But here they were. It was magical. And of particular interest to me, since whales figure as an important theme in my YA novel Chasing at the Surface. More about that later.

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