Lake in the Woods, Douglas Co., OR, USA
A mallard hen near us is becoming antsy. She swims from our left to our right. Sure enough. The otter are getting close. We hear the soft “plop” when each dives…. Then back into the cattails where rustling and swaying take over.
Can’t see the otter now. They are behind us. We are parked on the dike that impounds this pond, parked so close Dale would get his feet wet if he stepped out.
Suddenly we see a thin string of bubbles rising to the surface. The otters know darn well where we are. The string of bubbles draws a wavy line right past us, probably within ten feet. One by one the three pop up to our right.
Since the otter appear to be heading away from us we decide to go over to the other side of the pond. I get out of the car at midpoint while Dale drives to the far side. We both sneak down to the pond and wait.
Darn. I’m too late. The trio have already passed my spot. They are busy hunting salamanders out in the open pond. I don’t want to disturb Dale’s chances so I stay put and sketch. The pond is still. Air barely moves. High above me I hear far off white-fronted geese. The geese are migrating, soon to be in the Klamath Basin. Their high voices soon fade. Stillness hangs in the air …. Yet the water along the edge to my left is sending out ripples, probably a mallard feeding along the edge. Quietly I reach for my camera.
I’m nearly done writing when two mallards explode out of the cattails across the pond from me. Ah Ha! Maybe I’ll have another otter opportunity.
It is easy to watch the otter’s progress. I just look for swaying cattails fronds. I sit very still, full of anticipation. Soon the otter is close. I can’t see him, but I can hear him: cattails being pushed, the chewing of his salamanders, the plop of his next dive. Most of the pond is edged with a six foot fringe of cattails, but I’m sitting where fishermen have made an opening. Not a big opening, but big enough for a nice look if he swims past me.
That toadie! This one knows where I am. The tell-tale string of bubbles shows me he is swimming past my opening. Then, to my right, I hear more rustling and munching. Ah well. Just being so close is a treat.