Friday, April 16, 2010

otters and ducks and mink, oh my!

We showed up at our usual parking place by the frog pond yesterday for our morning walk at the state forest and discovered a delightful surprise -- an otter was frolicking by the far shore. We quietly crept out of our car, leaving the puppy inside for a few minutes, to try to work our way closer to the otter. Whenever it went under water, we snuck a few steps nearer the pond, then held still, trying not to even breathe, when it surfaced. It was all a completely wasted effort -- by the time the kids got sick of playing the stealth game and we took Kiri out of the car to splash along the shoreline, the otter noticed the racket we were making and immediately swam in to have a closer look at what was going on. So much for the virtues of quiet observation!

Ok, so this picture is a little like a picture of the Loch Ness monster -- there's an otter there, honest!! (What can I say, my camera STINKS.) The smaller "lump" is it's head and the longer "lump" is it's rump and tail. You'll just have to take my word on it. But it was SOOOO cool, and as we made our way around the pond on our walk, it kept just ahead of us, checking in on what we were doing occasionally, fully aware that is was safe as safe can be in the water. It looked like it was having SUCH a great time -- I want to come back as an otter in my next life!

As we were "sneaking up on" our otter, we found a mass of frog eggs. (Yes, another lousy picture, sorry!) It's the fuzzy white clump amid the weeds towards the top of this photo. That, plus the otter, convinced us that the frog pond was the place to be yesterday morning, so we hit the trail that follows the perimeter of the pond, hoping for more wildlife spottings. We were not disappointed!

The kids and Kiri on the trail. One challenging aspect about this trail is that there are several inlets to the pond, and one quite swampy area, so lots of water to get across.

The boys show off their balancing skills by hopping their way from rock to rock across an inlet stream. We were immediately rewarded for our hard work, because as we approached the swampy area at the main inlet...

...we flushed a trio of Wood Ducks from this stand of dead pines. They flew right past our heads and we had a great look at them, listening to their whistling for quite some time after they flew off. Perhaps there are suitable nesting holes in those old snags?

We carefully picked our way through the swamp, looking for more evidence of the Wood Ducks, and again, we were not disappointed.

A wood duck print amongst the forest of skunk cabbage. Not only that, but a short distance away...

...we came across these mink tracks!

A closer look at another mink track. Don't let the scale deceive you, these tracks are really quite small, we would have missed them if we hadn't been specifically checking the mud for duck tracks.

There was no lack of beauty surrounding us on our walk. These little Wood Anemones were everywhere along the trail.

All in all, it was a great morning to be out and about enjoying the gifts of our planet.

Now, you see how easy it is to spend an entire morning on a walk that should have only taken half an hour?!


Christine said...

What a great adventure!

Heather said...

Thanks for great little walk story.
When I was about 7-9yo, my parents found a book called 'The Otter Who Wanted to Know'. I really loved it--I think I learned to read on it. And I wanted to come back as an otter.
The author wrote others: The Gorilla Who wanted to Grow Up, the Aardvark Who wasn't Sure.
Go well.
-Dave E-C