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May 2012: Fawn in a Fern Meadow

From the Photographer...

Kent Mason  

Every spring nature provides us with the sense of renewal. Early each June I look forward to seeing newly-born fawn in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia.

This photo was taken July 24, making this fawn about six to eight weeks old. From a high vantage point over a meadow filled with native grasses, wildflowers and ferns I focused my Cannon 70-200mm zoom lens (set at 200mm) on this fawn as it moved through the meadow. When it stopped in the large patch of ferns I made this photo (F5.6 and 1/400 of a second at 1S0 800).

The ferns made a wonderful natural backdrop for this curious reddish-brown spotted fawn.

The specific location is a small knoll on the side of Mt. Porte Crayon, a mountain that is part of the eastern continental divide. I purchased this property because it was adjacent to Dolly Sods Wilderness and The Nature Conservancy's Bear Rocks Preserve — my favorite photo location on the east coast.

The Dolly Sods Wilderness landscape of the Allegheny Front mountain range is one of the largest, most intact-forested landscapes in the Central Appalachians. With elevations ranging from low to high, varying geologies including limestones and sandstones, the landscape includes a rich variety of habitats, plants and animals. Its most prominent landforms are its high plateaus and the Dolly Sods, Bear Rocks and the Roaring Plains areas are some of the best known.

Altogether, the Conservancy has protected 24,000 acres across the Dolly Sods-Roaring Plains landscape. A current 2000 acre project, the Thunderstruck property, which borders the Dolly Sods-Roaring Plains Wilderness Area, covers the west slopes of Mount Porte Crayon, at 4770 feet the highest peak on the Roaring Plains plateau. The Thunderstruck property includes rich deciduous forests that support many plants endemic to the Appalachians such as Blue Ridge Saint John's-wort (Hypericum mitchellianum) and the federally threatened running buffalo clover (Trifolium stoloniferum).

Lower elevations include Spruce Run, a native brook trout stream, and several caves. The caves support the federally endangered Virginia big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii virginianus) and blind, unpigmented invertebrates known only from caves in this region of West Virginia.

The highest elevations extend into one of the finest red spruce forests remaining in the Central Appalachians and support species typically found farther north, such as snowshoe hare, and populations of the federally listed as threatened Cheat Mountain salamander and federally listed as endangered West Virginia northern flying squirrel.

The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia has been a key player in protecting large areas of these West Virginia mountains which I love and spend my time photographing. It is an honor to share my images and support the work of the Conservancy.

Kent Mason, a retiree, decided to give five years of professional photographic services to The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia after he found out his favorite photo location, Bear Rocks, was a Nature Conservancy preserve. See more of Kent’s images at: wvphotographs.com.


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