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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of four. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lonesome otter

Ever since PG&E drained the flume a couple weeks ago -- mainly to remove dead trees on the banks -- I've had an eye open for bank burrows.

Last year I saw otters dive and disappear into the banks in several places, and now I've had a chance to confirm the presence of burrows.

The burrow left of center for example is normally underwater, and in the summer it's completely hidden by Indian rhubarb.

Today we stumbled on a lone otter and I found another burrow.

The muddy water caught my eye, but I assumed it was due to someone's dog.

The next thing I knew Fred was in the water, and I saw a flash of movement under the surface -- the otter.

Otters can tooth-slash a dog as easily as a person, and it took only a few excited curses to get Fred out of the water.

But this otter behaved oddly -- it refused to leave the area, and it didn't retreat into the nearby burrow.

So while Fred fidgeted on the berm I took pictures as the animal rested on the gunnite bank.

Its small size told me it was a female.

Possibly there's a litter in that burrow, but if so I'd expect an aggressive male to be present.

I got the feeling she is an outcast.

Who knows? . . . Maybe the scars on her shoulder and flank were from a fight.

Signs of old age were there too. Her lower canines were broken off at the gumline.


Carol said...

You are so lucky...I love Otters...and you have them close by to watch all the time. Take good care of her.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Great otter shots Chris. Hope you can get more pics of her with the game cameras but these are just great.

Mr. Smiley said...

Now, the real question is can a certain Redhead make a nice pie out of that Indian Rhubarb!

randomtruth said...

Well captured Codge! That's a fave critter that I'd love to see some day. Hopefully she'll have pups this season.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Yes troops, I was lucky on that one, but as for Mr Smiley's comment, as long as I can buy and grow rhubarb I am steering clear of the Indian stuff. I learned my lesson about substitutes when I got the redhead to bake a mulberry pie.

Owlman said...

It was a good thing that Fred didn't tangle with the old otter.
Nice photos.

cliff said...

Great otter pictures, I do believe your dog is too smart to mess with an otter, just something about the snarling and hissing that gets your attention.

Most of the time a female doesn't allow a male around until the pups are taught how to swim. Some do but not very common. Also very common for an otter to den up with beaver while traveling from pond to pond.

I watched a family of three play and feed behind my house for about an hour last month, even came out of the water on my beach. I do think they can outswim a salmon under water, extremely fast for long distances under water.