Jack ThumbnailBy Jack McShane

Ollie the Otter first appeared two issues ago and to my otter, I mean utter, amazement he made a second appearance in another pond just at the deadline for last month’s issue, so he was not mentioned. Having just come off the mountaintop and cruising slowly past a cattail corner of what we call the lower pond, I saw a familiar looking wake and suddenly that familiar little round face peered at me through an opening in the reeds. I continued slowly around some conifers to where I would be on the opposite side and of course there he was sitting on a log staring at me. I slowly got out my camera; yes, I had it with me and with a newly installed battery, believing all along that he would quickly disappear. To my delight he stayed!

Not only did he stay, but put on a wonderful performance, swimming many times across the pond with multiple watery plunges, surfacing always with those beady eyes locked on mine. I also heard him emit what could only be described as low grunts when he passed by. As I kept snapping pics he finally had a very successful dive, surfacing with a good sized pumpkinseed sunfish in his jaws. Of course he turned to me as if to say, “Look, success. I got one of your sunnies!” He returned to what appeared to be his favorite log and perch, sat up, and with fish in mouth seemed to convey, “You gonna try to do somethin’ about it?” He eventually went about eating the whole thing tail first.

Picture2 After many pics with the zoom on, the battery in the camera died. Lesson learned: Before installing a brand new rechargeable battery, charge it! After a little more than an hour of Ollie Otter theatrics, since the light was receding, and I was chilled to the bone, I decided to slide away and let him continue his watery escapade into the night, when, he being a supposed nocturnal creature, his activities are supposed to occur

I got a feeling this little guy likes to be on stage. I am now hoping, if my luck holds, to be around for one of his next performances. My son Kris had mentioned during the summer that it appeared we had too many sunfish in this pond and maybe we should have some kids up to fish them out. Well, now we have a natural control agent. Sorry kids! Ollie has taken first dibs.

One last otter news: a friend up at Broadlands told me that the last article featuring a story about my first Ollie sighting actually saved her reputation as she had reported seeing one and no one believed her. Could this be the same otter? Although they have been known to travel many miles in a day, I doubt it and hope I am right. Hail the return of Ollie the River Otter known in scientific circles as Lutra Canadensis! If we are lucky and a mate is sighted in the spring it will be known as Lonnie and will be duly reported on. As much as I am against anthropomorphizing and putting words in  the mouths of wild things, I’m doing it and loving it.

Picture3P.S. Let it be known a friend, a retired school teacher of Margaretville School and a reliable and competent naturalist, reports that he has seen sign of the River Otter where the East Branch of the Delaware enters the Pepacton Reservoir.~