December 14, 2016. I'm watching Pinky and Flag, Ellen's orphans, when I see an adult doe hanging shyly behind the dying pines in our back yard. She's holding her left eye mostly closed, and there's a big tear streak running down her cheek.
I study her hard, looking for distinctive characteristics. Do I know this doe?
Here is where my Canon 7D with 70-300 mm telephoto is my best ally, snatching images of the animals I seek to know. There's a powerful team working for the Science Chimp, and my camera's the star quarterback. Along with it goes my Mac, with its incredible search function. But neither of these players would be working so effectively for me if I didn't blog. Here's why: When I'm blogging, I name all my photos and toss them into a file for that month's blog. And the moment I name a photo, I make it retrievable. And when I can retrieve a photo, I can access a goldmine of images that help me piece together these animals' stories.
I have a feeling the mystery doe with the weeping eye is a colleague of Ellen's. I think I've seen her before. So I pull up all the photos labeled "Ellen" and study them.
January 31, 2014. Exactly two years ago today. There she is! Ellen's laying her chin on Mystery Doe's back. Sweet? Nope. It's a dominance move. She's telling this gal to get out of her way, in a gentle way first. But you can see by the backward set of the layee's ears that she knows a bap is coming next. And you can see by the divot of hair taken out of Ellen's flank that she's been scrappin'.
Here's what I see on this doe that I'm seeing in Ms. Bad Eye. Overall, she's very warm in coloration. The rings around her eye and muzzle are not white, but bright warm burnt sienna-buff. More than that, she's got a neat little black mark on her mandible that looks a bit like a shark's tooth coming out of her mouth. Contrast that with Ellen's much larger black mandibular mark.
Her eye is still weeping, but she's not holding it closed as much as she was on December 14. Good.
Oddly, it looks quite a bit smaller than her right eye, sunken perhaps. I can't tell if this is a natural asymmetry or if it's related to her condition. If she's lost the sight in it, it could indeed have shrunken.
Now, having identified her, it's time to name her. I choose Buffy, to remind me of her coloration. Now that I've noticed these things about her, she sticks out like a sore thumb. I see the warm rufous tone; I check for the shark tooth, and the weepy left eye clinches the ID.
Buffy's been here all along, but I was too busy watching Ellen to really take notice of her. Now, my beloved Ellen murdered and gone, I watch Buffy, Pinky, Flag and Boss Doe all the more closely.