Thursday, January 3, 2019

Another Surprise from the Tuolumne River: River Otters!

This year just gets better and better (I have a futile hope that this trend continues for the entire year...). Yesterday I get the best look ever at a Bobcat on the Tuolumne River, and then today, another marvelous sight: River Otters up close and personal.

I see River Otters once in awhile during my walks along the Tuolumne River Parkway Trail in Waterford, but they've always been pretty far away, and I characteristically see a nose and eyes sticking out of the water. Today I was along part of the Don Pedro irrigation infrastructure near La Grange looking for a rare bird that's been reported in the area. I was on a highway bridge and looking down I saw ripples along the bank and immediately figured it was some ducks hiding in the brush, but then I saw whiskers. I started snapping pictures, which were all practically unusable except for the one above. I then remembered to turn on the video and I got a pretty nice, if short, bit of one of the otters exploring the bank.
The picture above is a screen capture from the video, actually.

River Otters have a decent future as California rivers get cleaner and flows become more generous as planners start to see rivers in the context of an entire ecosystem that we are part of, instead of as a faucet solely for agricultural interests. A pair of River Otters was even seen in Yosemite Valley recently for the first time in decades. It is such a pleasure to see these playful animals in the wild.

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