It’s not about the photography
Well, not always, anyway. Sometimes I feel joy just from being a witness to the wonders of animal life, even if the photos don’t quite turn out. First, today’s circle of life experience:
Otters are spotted every year at the lake we frequent, though not on most days, and rarely in the summer. Janet got a surprise brief visit from an otter only a week ago, so I went out a few days ago, hopeful. What I saw, still distresses me: a dead otter floating near shore. The cause of death was not immediately obvious, no obvious trauma, no fishing line wrapped around the head, etc. Sad to lose such a beautiful creature. Today I was near the unfortunate otter again when one of its clan mates, fully alive, swam near me. Gingerly, I followed it, grateful for the knowledge that at least one otter still lived. It swam away from me mostly underwater, then popped up suddenly with a fish in its mouth. I slowly spun the kayak in a circle and watched it climb on to a lakeside log. As it proceeded to eat the fish, it seemed to struggle a bit to chow it down.
The heron’s strategy of swallowing fish whole seems easier, though I suspect the otter recovers more of the nutritional value of the chewed up fish than the heron. The reeds that partially shielded the otter prevented me from getting a clean shot, but I’m certainly grateful to have been a witness.
A different day this week, mountains rather than lake, but a similar feeling of gratitude. I love the alarm sound pikas make when they spot hikers, regarding it as a greeting to the higher elevations (though the pikas undoubtedly do not share my feelings). I sat not 40 yards below a popular trail in the North Cascades, perched on a boulder, waiting for the pikas to scout the intruder. After a matter of minutes one or two took turns keeping an eye on me. One particularly amusing fellow, watched me for 10 minutes, then would dash off for a mouthful of food and return to watch me while it chewed.
Thanks for reading.