Monday, September 15, 2014

AN OTTER'S RUN

This has been a very busy week.  Three days off in a row found me dashing off in a northerly direction to meet my  good friend Tom in Waynesboro, Virginia to spend an evening with Rhonda Winfield at her bar/grill named Jake's.  The significance of visiting with Rhonda can be found within a post away from this one.  What a great evening with a good friend and a great lady!  It was a one day/evening trip with Tom and I saying goodbye in the morning and heading our separate north and south ways.  I rode the Blue Ridge Parkway south as far as Tuggles Gap where I got on route 8 north through the pretty little town of Floyd and ambled on up to interstate 81 where I dropped the hammer toward home.  I didn't take many photos on this trip as it was sort of an unplanned, fast blast off thing and besides - I forgot to take my camera to Rhonda's and had to borrow Tom's for the evening and he hasn't emailed me the pictures I took at Jake's bar/grill.  I'll throw some shots up here when he gets around to mailing me the photos.  Anyway, about today's post:
 The morning was foggy and there was a very light drizzle falling for much of the morning which kept a lot of fishermen off the lake.  I like fog and light rain while on the lake and was in my element.
Shade accompanied me today, mostly because she got out of the house and posted herself at the passenger door of the truck and would not move anywhere until I opened the door for her to get in.  She can be very persuasive at times.

The temperature bordered on cold and the sun was nowhere to be found which is a desirable thing for me.  I paid for that later as there was very little light to take photos with and today proved to be loaded with photo opportunities.

 The lookout was in place on the bow and we were off.
What follows is nothing that is highly unusual other than it is unusual to occur on Douglas Lake.  I spotted otters on this lake a couple weeks ago as you may recall and I keep an eye open for them every time I'm in that particular area.   I have the GPS coordinates saved on my boat's electronic map.  Today I came upon one lone otter. He was a youngster probably less than a year old.  He knew the terrain well as he used it to his benefit as he escaped from potential danger (me).  The little otter acted in a way I would not expect an otter to act when trying to run and hide, which would be to use the water to evaporate from sight.  The shorelines of Douglas Lake have very little cover to hide in and maybe he felt less than safe in the cover available.  He made a daring dash for safety over land.  He needn't have been concerned because it was only me he was running from.  There are a ton of photos none of which will win any prizes but, his run from danger is documented.  It starts where I noticed either a beaver or an otter swimming toward shore in a cove.
 The above shot is what drew my attention to the spot.  I knew this wasn't a fish.
 I wasn't sure about the shot above.  It looked like a beaver profile at first but the picture below tells the tale.
 And, he was off on his overland run for cover.  Why, I have no idea when he has the water at his back.
 Its interesting to note how he runs.  At times he stretches out much like a dog would and his shorter legs really carry him along.  At other times he runs with that slinky, porpoise, undulating movement that is so prone to otters.
He could really move along at a fast rate of speed for sure.

He came to a certain spot and went straight up the cliff into the forest above where he ran along the edge of the foliage for about 50 feet and turned back down onto the baron cliff line and continued his run.  There really isn't anywhere for him to find cover on the shoreline but it is clean enough where he can run as fast as he can without impediments and he seemed to have a destination in mind. 


I couldn't figure why this youngster was travelling alone.  That didn't make sense as they are gregarious critters, more so than any other critter I can think of.
 He is actually running along the vertical side of the bank.  I've no idea how he can do that.  He's an otter for goodness sake.  Look at the shot below and you'll note he is running just like a dog would.  His back legs are coming well forward to place the feet under his chest for that powerful thrust just like a dog.  He isn't running like a weasel at all really.


 He's really turning it on in the shot below:

 I had no idea they were that fast on land.  No idea at all!
 He didn't stop once.  I was really finding it difficult to pan with the camera due to his constantly changing directions of up the hill, down the hill and full speed across the hill.  The shutter speed is around 1/125th as there is no light at all.

He's really running from this huge, noisy white boat.  Otters hate white and have no patience for two stroke engines that are inherently very loud and noisy.  My Gheenoe would have gone a long way in getting this little fellow to stop as that boat is forest green and has a whisper quiet four stroke engine on it that is critter friendly.  Oh well - it is what it is and I'm appreciative of this opportunity to photograph this little fellow's run for his life, even though he has nothing to fear.  





 He was going in the same direction as I was so I just floated along with him and allowed him to get ahead of me.  It wasn't my intention to stress the little fellow out so I pulled back a bit.

 He ran to the top of the hill on the horizon and abruptly turned toward the water and made directly for it.


 The weasel profile is very apparent in the shot below:


 He was nearing the safety of the water even though he had nothing to fear from me.  Wonder why he ran all the way across the cliff side only to enter the water at this specific spot.  Who can guess an otter?


 In he goes and its goodbye time.

I guarantee an otter would not have ran the distance across the shoreline if there was habitat there for him.  Lack of habitat on the shorelines is a great detriment to all critters that live near water on this lake.  Is what it is I guess.....
 The shot below would have been a great osprey shot had I been able to use a higher shutter speed.


 Harsh back-light almost ruined the eagle shots.


 The osprey is thrown in for good measure



 And, the navigator says, "lets get the heck out a here."  And, we did.  See ya.