Tuesday, January 8, 2013

AN OTTER SURPRISE

animal photos taken with Sigma 120mm - 400mm IS Telephoto Lens

I worked afternoon shift until past dark yesterday and had to drive up to John Sevier Reservoir for the morning shift today.  I was up at 4AM and on the road by 5AM.  I'm a bit tired.  Its not the work but all the driving.  Anyway - I did say it was cold this morning, didn't I?  In case I didn't - It was really, really cold to the tune of 26 degrees!  I got to the water about an hour before sun-up and "chilled" out in the truck for awhile until I could see.  There was Ice on the little ramp as well as on the edges of the water where it touched the shoreline.  I did mention it was cold!
The plan was to run up-river on the right side and make contact with any anglers along the shoreline, cross over the river at the shoals located six or seven miles ahead.  In reality, I would simply cross the river if I saw anyone no matter which side they were on.  But, ya gotta have a plan.  So, up-river I went.
As luck would have it I talked to two fishermen on the way up the water.  I would continue farther until I came to the beaver cuttings I told you about last week.  I wanted to change the position of the electric motor that I installed on the transom (rear of the boat.)  Its an awkward affair to use in its current position.  I would beach the boat at the beaver cuttings.
I picked a nice spot right in front of the trees the beavers felled.  This would be a great time to grab a couple shots of more downed trees.  When I stepped ashore I was amazed at what I saw.

These were busy beavers indeed.  Look at the size of those trees.  The wood chip piles are amazing!
Above:  Look at that perfect cut.  And, the taper is perfect.  How do they know to do that?  There's more.

I suddenly thought of something.  These trees are enormous.  Certainly there isn't a beaver in the world big enough to pull them into the water or to even move them.  They can't eat them either.  So, why do they cut them down?  Maybe its to get at the branches above.  That's probably it.  These are interesting little critters.
I jumped back into the boat and grabbed my water bottle, unscrewed the cap and glanced up the lake.  There was a beaver swimming directly toward me.
He instantly saw the boat and dived.  When he surfaced he was facing horizontal to me and heading toward the shore.  Then he submerged again and was facing the other direction when he came up for air.

I guess they know every tree and stick on the water and my boat didn't belong in the mix.  There was nothing I could do but take a couple shots of him at great distance.  There'll be another time.  No sooner did the beaver disappear when four otters came splashing down the shoreline.  The camera was in the case and I about fell out of the boat getting the thing extricated.  The otters saw the boat also and went into the water.  They lifted themselves straight up out of the water for a good look.  I missed all those shots.  Finally I got the camera to my face and started collecting memories.  But, the otters were swimming now.  That's OK.  As I said before - there'll be another time.


I love otters.  These creatures are the most beautiful water mammal on the planet.  They are curious and have an adorable face.

The sun was dull and the sky gray overhead.  Blue sky and sun would have produced some great shots here.   I looked behind me to see if the boat was drifting into a nearby log.  When I looked back I was face to face with an otter.  His curiosity got the better of him and he had both paws up on the top of the log with his chin on the log.  He was ten feet behind me.   I have no idea how long he was there.  He swam underwater and surfaced behind the log to check me out.  Three seconds and he instantly disappeared with a plop.



I sat and watched them out in the center of the river undulating on the surface like miniature sea serpents.  They would dive and surface repeatedly.  How gorgeous and how free!  I must return in the Gheenoe or the canoe.  I had no idea I would run into this find.  Now, I know where they are.  The island they live on and near is posted so I have to find out who owns the property so I can ask permission to photograph from land in my blind.  Can't wait.

I made my way back down the other side of the river and to the boat ramp.  It was late and I had a long way to go home.
 Oh - I received a lot of emails asking if I picked my teeth up off the beach where I spit em out.  Yes I did.  I put them in my flotation jacket pocket where they still reside even now.