Adorable River Otters, Swimming Snake & a Few Birds Too (5/8/21)

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zackiedawg
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Adorable River Otters, Swimming Snake & a Few Birds Too (5/8/21)
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My last post left off with some shots at a wetlands north and west of me, and that's where this post picks up - on that same January 23rd, on a lovely day.  But rather than mostly birds, this thread will have mostly otters!  Because I don't get to see them too often, and because they're just silly and playful and very photogenic, I really enjoy getting to watch and photograph them.  Then I headed back to my local wetlands later that afternoon to wrap up the day there, with a few birds and a water snake actually swimming around in the open water.

All shots here were taken with the A6600 and the FE 200-600mm combo, handheld, and posted at 1800 pixels on the long side if you view the originals.  The otters were photographed at Peaceful Waters Sanctuary in Wellington, while the rest were at Green Cay Wetlands in Delray Beach:

My first encounter with an otter was at quite a distance - about 300 feet - I saw one up on the levee rolling around in the dirt and grabbed a few shots in case it scurried off and that was my last opportunity to photograph one that day

I kept walking towards them, keeping a few low reeds and bushes between me and them so they didn't see me coming - but was still about 200 feet away when another one came up on the levee and joined the first

Otters use dirt and sand the way people use water in a shower.  Since they live in the water, they go up on land and roll around in the sand and dirt to loosen and dry out algae, moss, and other things that get in their coat and make it dirty - losing their oils...after a nice dirt bath, they plunge back in the water and the unwanted things wash off with the dirt!

Before I could get within 100 feet of them, they plunged back in the water - I kept heading that direction thinking I probably wouldn't see them again - but as I rounded the corner, I was pleasantly surprised to find one of them just 40 feet from me, gnawing on a crawfish (you can see the claw sticking out of his mouth)

Quite a happy faced little fella, finishing his meal.

Some splashing off to his left got his attention - and mine too - I thought he was the only one around, but off to my right I saw some splashing around and realized the other otter was goofing off, and this otter wanted to be in on the action

He started swimming off to join the other otter, but paused to look back at me - maybe I was reading it wrong, but it sure felt like he was inviting me to follow along!

Following otters isn't all that easy unless you want to wade through swamp muck up to your waist...I didn't, so I had to take one levee to another levee to a third levee to catch up to the otters - it took about 12 minutes to get there, but when I did, I realized there were more than two.  The otter in the middle almost looks embarrassed at getting a kiss in front of the camera

After that, the otters went off into the deeper waters, away from any levees or boardwalks where I could follow them.  I got one last pop up head through the duckweed, looking back my way...I considered it a nice goodbye!

Leaving Peaceful Waters, I caught this one palm warbler on the way out - just a faint hint of the rusty cap they have in breeding coloration, which they usually don't when they visit down here in Florida.

A young red-winged blackbird male, with just a bit of shoulder color on the wing

He was singing out and calling out for other blackbirds nearby - this would be time to start looking for mates, as they typically nest in late February and into March, then their chicks hatch in April to early May.

They're called water snakes for a reason!  I sometimes photograph them sitting on a bed of moss in the water, but rarely get to see one hauling out across deep, open water like this one did.  Generally, snakes don't like to be this obvious, as raptors and herons and egrets can all see them making ripples in the water, and all would love this snake as a meal!

He stopped swimming for a while, and just sat there floating - they can float quite handily!

And to wrap up that January 23rd shooting day, my last bird was this lovely glossy ibis, showing off his iridescent sheen, with those brown feathers looking rich red, with hints of magenta, wings tinged with green.  For a plain brown bird, they can look very nice when the light hits them!

Comments, questions, and critique welcomed as always!

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Justin
galleries: www.pbase.com/zackiedawg

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