Otters acting Oddly?

Two big black birds came into my view this morning during my daily survey of the slough. Springing into the sky they exposed themselves to be Ravens. During my younger years, while out at sea, the big Russian Bombers would fly by our carrier, we would answer by sending fighter jets to follow them. That is what the Crows and Ravens remind me of with the small Starlings, Red Wing Blackbirds, and Fly Catchers hot on their trail. I’m beginning to think the Ravens may be taking over the Crows turf, time will tell.

I decided to go down to the garden as the wind was increasing; when it starts early in the morning it’s a sure sign it will gain speed. May through August is the windy season then it meets up with the fire season resulting in disastrous results. I’m not sure if there is anything left to burn up North, but I’m sure there are still plenty of trees left from the long drought that is still dangerously dry, time will tell. The entire Western U.S. is bracing for it to begin.

Anyway sitting in the garden it is comforting to watch the plants grow, it looks as if it may be a good tomato year. I picked up my binoculars and scanned the tree line, the Red Wing Blackbird females have taken over the top of a dried out snag. Sitting on a branch about 10 feet from the main body of birds was a larger bird appearing to be about 18 inches in length. I was not able to make out any colors it appeared to be dark grey. I tried to make a determination of what species of bird it was, I could not tell. Some Hawks and Parrots heads look similar, especially from a distance, I’m not sure what it was. I did not have my video camera set up, an exact Identification would have been possible, as usual, I will be set up tomorrow. Choosing my adventures I will rise early and head down setting the sights at the exact spot I saw the bird.

I do that a lot with mixed results, most of the time I am able to capture (video) something of interest. The slough is low on activity between the nesting and the wind, birds are reluctant to take to the air. The furry animals will not venture far from their dens with young ones in it. The Otters are seen rarely now and for the next month when we see them with their small bobbers. Small Otters bob up and down with the waves, they aren’t by any stretch of the imagination, good swimmers. That will take a while for them to be able to copy their parents catching fish. They are big animals measuring up to 4 feet (about one meter) weighing about 50 pounds. The large animals can be mean but it depends upon how close we get to them. Feeling challenged they will take a minimal amount of guff from any creature. Capable of fighting off most predators, some won’t mess with them, they are fearless, I will not pester them at all.

They stink, not only natural odors including a repugnant musk to mark their territory but the smell from the river. When that is added to what they eat the smell can be quite strong. They are bandits like their country mates the Racoons, every night these animals search every square inch of their territory. My neighbor has a battle going on with them, they climb all over his houseboat and motorboat looking for food. They eat anything; failing to find a snack on a boat or deck they will leave a calling card, yes you got it, scat. They are not averse to spreading it around either, they leave a disgusting mess. Deposits of musk are every bit as bad if not worse than the scat, and they are proud of it.

Wait it gets worse, dogs love their scat and roll around in it every chance they get. Rubbing it into their coats south of their ears on the side of the neck two comments are common: 1) What in the world is that stink? 2) Did the dog roll in something? When I see Skunkpuppy rolling in something on the Levee, that’s what it is. Not without an entertainment aspect watching people walk their dogs past the house, there are two things every single one of them do.

They soil my neighbors’ lawn, don’t for one second think she doesn’t notice every one of them. I clean it up because my dog does the same thing, on the same spot as every other canine has done for probably the past thousand years. Maybe not that long but something drives them all to go there, I’m sure the Coyotes do as well. Which might be the reason our domestic pets all try to mask it. When a dog walker passes by and I have a visitor I will tell them where the dogs going to soil, sure enough, every time, I am not exaggerating one tiny bit. Maybe I shouldn’t be so attentive to it but after living her so many years and it happening every time it’s difficult to ignore, There is no way to stop it that I know of.

The second thing dogs do is tucking their front legs under them then push themselves along the ground with their back legs while jamming their necks into the turf. They are rubbing in Otter scat, sometimes I swear they are smiling. I hear the owners shout at the dog “What did you just roll in?” I should probably not think it’s funny, but dangit when something is it is.

Not as funny as when my neighbor fell in the river while her husband was bossing her around, but very close. “Dangit,” he hollered “what are you doing going for a swim right now?” I was laughing so hard I had to hide as she looked around making certain there were no witnesses.

Otters are not quiet eaters, according to my friend living on a floating home. They eat a lot of fish, constantly crunching through the scales, and bones at night they can keep him awake.

Another favorite of theirs is Cheetos, the orange flaky tasty little morsels. Never leave anywhere the Otters are able to get to them, the first thing they do is pop the bag and the orange munchies fly all over. I had a boat with an off white interior, we left a bag unopened on the seat. The next morning all of the Cheetos were gone, the entire white interior was orange, everything. The stuff does not wipe up when it is moist, on top of that if it was once moist and then dried on the seat, it’s now a permanent color until it wears off.

Living on the water we can not let our guard down when it comes to the critters, wind, and water. At times it seems like they have a conspiracy against us. But actually, every living being has the same common goal, survival, When we leave Cheetos in a white boat the critters are thinking “food”, while we’re thinking pest. A simple matter of perspective I suspect, while all they are doing is exhibiting Natural Self Reliance.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance.

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