River Otters And Late Summer Flowers: A Wonderful Wildlife Encounter And September Beauty At The Susquehanna Wetlands
It was a good week in my search for wild edible mushrooms. I found many edible species during the week, including the “redtop” (aspen scaber stalk bolete) and “cozie” birch scaber stalk bolete needed for our traditional Polish mushroom soup we serve at Holy Supper on Christmas Eve. So I decided to take a morning off from my mushroom hunts and visit the Susquehanna Wetlands in Salem Township in Luzerne County on Saturday morning. I have experienced many wonderful wildlife encounters in this nature preserve over the years, including a cinnamon bear, a fox family playing along the river , snapping turtles mating , bald eagles feeding their young to name a few. Well on Saturday I had another wonderful encounter with a family of river otters in the wetlands. I learned they are cute, curious and playful critters.
It was a partly cloudy and warm morning when I arrived. As usual I first walk down to the Susquehanna River hoping to see a bald eagle, osprey or some other water fowl. I didn’t see any on Saturday. But I saw the river was still high from all of the recent rains.
After seeing the green heron I heard some splashing on one of the old canals. Investigating I observed a family of river otters playing in the green, duck weed covered waters. I think the mother was perched on a log. I couldn’t get a clear photo because of the trees and brush along the canal. It was still an enjoyable experience watching them trough the branches.
It seemed they were curious, but very cautious. They would look at me, then dive under the water, and reappear in another location. I kept following them trying to get a clear photograph.It was almost like they were taunting me. I was finally able to get some photos before they submerged under the waters.
As I continued my walk I found them again further along the trail. They were on the banks of the canals and quickly scrambled into the water. I knew they must swim very fast to have got that far ahead of me.
This was confirmed, when, after walking a few more hundred yards, I saw them again.
This time one of the young ones was on the log with its’s mother while the other swam in the waters. Once again they dived under the water as I approached. I waited for 15 minutes and walked a bit in both directions hoping to see them again. I didn’t. I am guessing they may have swam ahead and scrambled over to a larger pond on the other side of the canal. It was a truly enjoyable experience to watch these playful and curious creatures as they went about their carefree existence in their own little natural world. I often wish I could join them. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photographs of the river otters. Susquehanna Wetlands otters September 18 2021
I hear there chattering every time I visit but they very seldom stay in one place long enough to photograph. On Saturday they decided to take a break on the electric wires over the lake. They aren’t the best photos but at least I was able to capture and share images of this beautiful birds.
The females are not seen as much as their bright red mates but they are just as beautiful . Here is a link to a gallery in my blog website with more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike. Susquehanna Wetlands birds. September 18 2021.
and the purplestem asters.
I was hoping to see the river otter family again but they weren’t around. Wherever they were I am sure they were enjoying the day in the late Summer sun as much as I was. I did see this critter scurrying on the forest floor, under the tall old oaks trees,
a chipmunk having an early afternoon snack. It was a beautiful day, as it always is in the wetlands, but even more so having enjoyed watching the playful river otters,. I hope I see them again soon. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike . Susquehanna Wetlands September 18 2021.
These little fur balls are very good swimmers and can stay underwater for three to four minutes at a time. Otters are very much like you boys and girls, because they spend most of their time playing.Michael R. Greyson