Searching for the Piebald Fawn

Early this summer at Radnor Lake State Natural Area and Wildlife Refuge, a piebald fawn was born. Her twin is reddish-brown and spotted with white, the usual color of a newborn white-tailed deer, but the piebald fawn is mostly white with reddish-brown markings. Next to her mother and her twin, she looks like a magical creature who has stepped out of a myth to live in the ordinary green woods of Tennessee.

Or so I hear. Almost everyone I know who spends any amount of time at Radnor has seen the piebald fawn, but I have not. On Friday my husband and I visited the park just before sundown, which seemed to be an auspicious time for a deer sighting. We were rewarded with the briefest, blurriest glimpse of something white deep in the underbrush, and then she disappeared, tantalizingly near but well out of sight, while her twin grazed in full view. Tonight we went back at nearly the same time and looked for her in the same area, but no luck. We even circled around at the end of our walk an hour later for another look. Nothing.

What we saw instead: a barred owl scratching its beak with a great yellow claw; a raccoon emerging from the lake and climbing a tree, sending a silver spray of water into the slanted light of sunset; a long row of turtles, all lined up on a log like wet brown pearls; a doe and her small, late-born twins, still spotted and a little wobbly of gait; a beaver swimming toward shore; and three great blue herons—one keeping watch at the edge of the lake, one puzzling out how to swallow a too-large and still fighting bluegill it had just caught, and one standing on a submerged log and looking for all the world as though it were fishing in the sky.

(9.10.17) Searching for the Piebald Fawn