Bamboo For You

A Surprise At The Pond

 

 

1-23-07

Greetings.  I took a ton of photos today, so you might want to fix yourself something to eat or drink, before we get started.

 

If you've been checking out this website, then you have certainly heard this intro before:  I got up this morning, went into the kitchen to make coffee and looked out the window to see if there was anything interesting going on at the pond.  It was still pretty dark out, as well as rather cool (47 degrees) and a bit foggy.  I could see that there was something in the pond, but I could not tell what it was.  I later learned that there are 13 species of this creature found throughout the world.  Some of them include the Eurasian, the Neotropical, the Spotted-necked, the Hairy-nosed, the Congo, and the Giant.  The species that I have just had the privilege to photograph is actually hunted in 38 states in the U.S., which may be one of the reasons they are rarely seen.  If you have had the pleasure of seeing this creature, then you know how excited I was to see it in our pond.  If you haven't guessed what it is, I'll give you another hint: the Genus is Lontra.  I'm sure you're probably thinking, "Oh, yeah, of course, the Lontra.  That's a big help."  OK.  I'll give you another hint, it's a Lontra canadensis  : )

Still not sure what it is?  Check out the photos.

 

What I first saw looked like this:

 

 

At first I thought that it was a large duck, as what I could see appeared rather large, and it would disappear under the water like a duck.  As I watched more closely, I could begin to get an idea of what it might be.  Can you tell what it is yet?

 

 

Finally, as I watched it moving and saw that it was much larger than a duck, I realized what it was.

 

 

There was an otter in the pond.  More specifically, a North American River Otter.

 

 

I continued taking photos as the dawn slowly brightened into day, but this guy was pretty tricky to photograph.  He would come up for air, I would aim my camera and focus, and just as I was about the get the shot, he would dive back under the water, and I would end up with a photo like this:

 

 

Or later, after it was brighter out, a photo like this:

 

 

Or, a photo like this:

 

 

Sometimes I could tell where he was under the water and which direction he was headed by the trail of bubbles that followed him, like this:

 

 

And like this:

 

 

This guy was actually doing very well at catching fish, and this was where I got some of my best shots.  Actually, not the catching of the fish, as this took place underwater where I could not see it, but rather the eating of the fish, because he would bring the fish up to the bank of the pond to eat it.  Here he is with a fish he just caught:

 

 

 

He would always bring the fish up to the bank to eat it.  Here he is, heading for shore with his catch.

 

 

Here he is bringing another fish to the shore.  He looks a little like the Loch Ness monster in this photo:

 

 

Time after time, he would swim around for a minute or two, come to the surface with his catch, and then bring it to the shore to eat it.

 

 

Here's a really big one:

 

 

Here he seems so relaxed, just lounging in the shallow water, enjoying his fish:

 

 

He looks like he wants to savor the sight and smell of this one before ripping it to pieces:

 

 

And did he ever rip them to pieces.  He would hold the fish firmly in his cute little paws (do you call them paws?), put one end of the fish in his mouth, and using his ferocious looking teeth, he would rip off a piece of the fish, chew it up and swallow it, and then rip off another piece.  Below are some photos of the eating action.  Check out his hand/paw in the first photo.  It looks like he is wearing a bracelet.  Nice manicure, too: 

 

 

Here he is, gorging himself:

 

 

Here he is with another fish:

 

 

Sometimes, instead of holding the fish, he would get it in his mouth, tip his head back, and just chew away at it, like this:

 

 

And like this:

 

 

And like this:

 

 

At times, he would throw his head back, close his eyes, and appear to be in sheer ecstasy, like here:

 

 

Watching him eating gave me a great deal of respect for the teeth he has.  Check these out:

 

 

Teeth:

 

 

Teeth:

 

 

And more teeth:

 

 

In a few photos you really can see that you would not want to mess with this guy.  Here he looks like he is ready to attack:

 

 

Don't get this guy angry at you:

 

 

At one point while I was photographing the otter, the Wood Stork stopped by to do a little fishing.  Here is the otter with the Wood Stork.  The otter is feasting on a fish, while the stork is trying to catch one:

 

 

Here's one more:

 

 

At one point, he disappeared under the water and I waited and waited for him to surface, but he just seemed to have disappeared.  I don't know how long they can stay under the water, but it seemed like he had been down for a very long time.  Suddenly, my eye caught some movement over in the field.  Apparently, he had slipped out of the pond without my noticing, and he was exploring in the field near the pond:

 

 

Here's a close-up:

 

 

He wasn't out of the pond for very long, though, and then back in the water for more fishing.  Most of the time he swam underwater, but I was able to catch him a couple of times swimming on the surface:

 

 

Here he brought his tail up out of the water as he was swimming:

 

 

Here's a close-up:

 

 

As you can see, I took a lot of photos of the otter.  Most of the time, he just ignored me, but a couple of times he looked in my direction:

 

 

One more photo, and then we get to the video.

 

Here is the otter departing:

** Click two times on the play button in the center of the picture to play the video  **

Best regards,

Bamboo For You