Saturday, January 30, 2016

Village Creek Drying Beds: January 2016

With the forecast calling for sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s on this late January Saturday, getting out to shoot was a moral imperative. I wasn't in the mood for too long of a drive, and after my success on my only visit to the Village Creek Drying Beds last year it seemed like a terrific candidate.

Bobcat, Village Creek Drying Beds
Waterfowl are the main draw, but I don't have the lens or the patience to shoot them here.  The ponds are too big, and the birds too skittish.   Fortunately, I spotted a bobcat ahead on the trail just like I had on my initial visit.  I lay down off to the side where I had a good view of where I expected it to cross and waited.  It wasn't terribly interested in giving me a solid shot, though.  It only came out of the grass once after it had passed me.

Bobcat, Village Creek Drying Beds
Once I could no longer see its face, it fairly sauntered out in the open.  Bah.  I tried to catch it again, but it disappeared into the tall grass.  Like, completely disappeared.  I looked and looked in the last place where I saw it and what seemed like its most likely paths away, and it was just gone.  Animals are so cool.

Red-eared Slider, Village Creek Drying Beds
This red-eared slider was sitting still on the trail.  I picked him up and noticed bubbles coming out his nose.  He closed his eyes and opened his mouth, almost as if he was trying to play dead.  I set him on a log on the edge of a pond, hoping the sun would warm him up and he'd slide on into the water and be on his merry way.  In the meantime, he seemed to enjoy pretending to be flying.

River Otter, Village Creek Drying Beds
I reached the end of my trail and turned around in time to see something long and dark bound into a pond.  I was at a loss to figure out what it was -- wrong shape and color for a bobcat, coyote, or feral pig.  As I got closer a movement in the water caught my eye, and I was delighted to catch sight of a river otter enjoying a fish it had caught.  The first I'd ever seen in the wild!

Unfortunately, when I tried to get a vantage point with a closer and clearer view it saw me and dove under the water.  I watched and waited, but never saw it again.  So this is my best shot of my first wild encounter with a river otter.

Mud Turtle, Village Creek Drying Beds
The waterfowl weren't the only skittish critters.  The turtles for the most part also had no interest in letting me approach.  There were at least a dozen mud turtles on this log and the others right by it.  well before I was in range to even think about getting a picture, 11 of them jumped into the water.  One stayed, and for that I was grateful.

I only spent a couple of hours out today.  I didn't see the most wildlife ever, or get my best shots.  But every time I go out I get something from the experience.  This time, it was the river otter.  And that's more than enough to make me excited about what I'll get out of the next time!

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