Aug 26 2014
I heard the cries loud and clear above the roar of rushing water. I’d made my way to an island in The River, hoping to photograph tadpoles in a nursery pool. But they certainly weren’t the ones making the racket. The caterwauling seemed to be coming from every point on the compass. So I climbed to the top of a rocky prominence to get a better look. And what did I see? At first, not a lot. The sun was in my eyes, and the water was a dazzling carpet of light. Then I saw an animal. An otter was bounding sinuously along the far shore. Suddenly it plunged into the swift current and began to swim upriver. That’s when I discovered where the noise was coming from. Two frightened otter pups were stranded on a boulder in midstream. Eager to capture the unfolding drama, I began shooting photos, though I had little hope that I’d get anything more than glare for my efforts.
Soon Mom reached her wayward kids. After checking them over to be sure they were unscathed — they were — she began herding them across the fast‑flowing water to the safety of shore. Once on dry land again, she administered a little tough love, head‑butting one errant pup into a reluctant amble before grabbing his (her?) more recalcitrant companion by the scruff of the neck and dragging him bodily up the slope, where two less adventurous siblings waited patiently. A flurry of greetings followed, but before long the family were bounding along a little feeder brook, only to disappear into the shadows of the deep woods.
The whole episode lasted just two or three minutes, and I managed to get off quite a few shots with my camera. But as I’d suspected, the photos didn’t turn out well. I was reminded once again that the eye is often quicker than the shutter. What do I mean? Just this: If I’d had a sketchpad in my hand instead of a camera, I’d probably have come away with a better record of the goings‑on in The River that day…Read more…
This article was originally published on September 8, 2010.