[Tweeters] One less duckling and a spotted owl

Rob Sandelin floriferous at msn.com
Tue Aug 9 08:47:30 PDT 2005

Over the weekend my family did a short backtrack on the closed part of the
Mountain Loop Highway, which was very birdy. After setting up camp, I walked
back to Myrtle lake which is along the road and was rewarded with the slap
of a beaver tail. I found a comfortable and well hidden spot and sat down to
watch. The beavers were busy, pushing sticks around, and a female duck with
4 ducklings was nosing about in a cove. After several minutes there was a
loud splash and a series of quacks and I looked up and saw mama and babies
scooting away from their previous location. It took me a bit to figure out
there were only 3 babies. I trained my bins on the far bank and saw a broad
brown back on the shore. I was puzzled, since I was pretty sure beavers were
strictly vegetarian. After a couple of minutes a broad head poked up and the
largest river otter I have ever seen slid into the water, its muzzle gory
red from its duckling dinner.

The next day we hiked up to Goat Lake. Just past where the upper and lower
Elliot creek trails merge is a wonderful museum of huge old trees. We were
sitting in the cathedral-like stillness of the big trees when a shadow moved
and, at 9:15 in the morning, a spotted owl swooped in and landed personably
close by. We admired this rare bird for several minutes until it had its
fill of human watching and flew off. (Humans are so boring, they just sit
there) At Goat lake a Great Blue Heron landed on one of the floating logs
and did a slow motion log rolling dance, flapping its wings to keep its
balance as the log circled and bobbed, finally flying over to a more stable
perch. It bowed, and so we clapped, and perhaps embarrassed by having an
audience, it flew off, gronking several times.

Rob Sandelin
Naturalist, Writer, Teacher
The Environmental Science School
Maltby, WA

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