Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cut the Willow Switch!

A great blue heron stalks ever so quietly in a small pond. While we wait for a good photograph, I’ve been busy sketching --  cormorants, Canada geese, shovelers, and now a great blue heron.  

While I sketch the heron a flock of twenty Canada geese fly into the pond and set up an earful of chatter.  The heron stays focused, slowly moving one foot forward and then the other.  

Squabbling and chasing, the geese have been here for five minutes and the air is still filled with goose chatter, not the low murmur of contented geese. The raucous commotion accompanies them as they settle who gets the choice spots.  It takes another five minutes before the geese calm down.  Most are now onshore preening; three bath; others swim slowly.  While we sit, waiting for the heron to catch something, two green-winged teal come swimming along the shoreline.  The heron moves ever so closely towards us.

Drat and rats!  Dale says, “Go cut yourself a willow switch!”  

When we left the house this morning we were on our way to a meeting.  The weatherman predicted ‘cloudy,’-- not ‘partly cloudy,’ not ‘mostly cloudy’ .... just ‘cloudy.’ Silly me said, “Lets not bother taking the big lens with us.”  By the time the meeting ended the clouds were burning off.  Now that we are parked at the little pond, an otter has come out on the far side of its tiny island  --  a little far away for the lens we have with us.  Shame on me for suggesting we leave the big lens at home.

All is not lost.  The otter decides to go hunting.  The otter is underwater a lot.  Sometimes we see a tight spattering of popping bubbles and we know he’ll come up near where we last saw him.  When he decides to move quickly from one place to another, we see a wake and a straight string of bubbles.  At least he gives us a clue as to where he’ll pop up next.  A road edges much of the pond so we inch along when he is underwater.

The heron is having none of this! When the otter nears, the heron quickly climbs on shore and keeps an eye on the otter’s meanderings.  Ducks move out of the way too.  

The otter has a fish!  A good sized bass, maybe ten inches long.  He is close to us, but this isn’t a good place to eat it.  He dives and comes up looking at us ...  dives again and heads towards the little island.  He quickly climbs onto solid ground and starts eating his catch.  We’re wishing for that big lens again, but I really can’t complain.  He did catch his fish right near us.

I’m surprised how quickly he eats the whole thing, just a few minutes.  Once done, he slips back into the water for a short swim around, underwater a lot again.  Soon he is back up on the island rubbing, rubbing, rubbing.  He rubs every bit of his body ... back, belly, sides.  Over and over.  

A little scratching and some licking is in order after the long rubbing.  He even grooms the tip of his tail.  His coat is beginning to look glossy and dry, not drenched.  

The otter gets lazier and lazier as we watch.  At first he tackled grooming with vigor, but now it is more snooze than motion.  He just has to find the right position for a good nap.  Time for us to head home for our lunch.


  1. Hi Elva, I've awarded you with the Liebster blog award- if you like it you can pass it on to other 5 favourite blogs of yours. No money nor medals, just a handshake really! The rules are on the web or on my last post.
    Cheers and thank you for the otter!

  2. What a delight having an otter entertain you. Never leave the big lens at home. Or do so because when you do something good always happens. It is that Murphy's law.

  3. Charming sketches--what a wonderful account of a an otter's lunch and nap!

  4. That otter painting needs a frame...and a place on the wall!