A few days ago, I was thrilled to see an otter ‘slide’ in the snow that wound around our waterfall, over a steep lip (whee!) and all the way down the stream (hop-hop-slide). Otters are such fun-loving creatures!
While I didn’t get a photo of the slide that day, I published this post six years ago– and as it’s still revelant, I thought I’d share it again.
Living in the country as we do, we share our land with many wild creatures. Though rarely seen as most are nocturnal, we occasionally see sign of them in a muddy footprint by the river or a soft spot of earth on the path. Once the snow falls, the whole world of animals outside our door comes to light through their tracks and it is breathtaking to see how vibrantly alive with wildlife are these fields and woods.
Seeing numerous tracks, large to very small, is like a tour of discovery every time I walk out. Identifying the owners is an intellectual guessing game.
In the past week, I’ve seen coyote, fox, bobcat, bear, deer, opossum, raccoon, otter, mink, rabbit, porcupine, squirrel, numerous birds and countless small species of rodents. Most on our small parcel of seven acres, a few on our…
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How thrilling, Eliza, I would also be elated to see an otter doing the slide in the snow! I’ve enjoyed watching them at the Baltimore Zoo, sliding up and down their man-made created slides. I enjoyed your republished post, jumping to the original. When we had 2.5 acres 20 years ago, I did the same thing, go out after snowfall and venture to see what animals were thriving. It was a happy feeling to co-habitat with them back then!
Thank you, Donna. They are fun neighbors! Even when the deer browse my garden and I grumble, I still know they have a right to be here, they have their place and we must co-exist.
Yes, those wild creatures are indeed our neighbours. Even here in suburbia we have deer (black-tailed), raccoons, rabbits, and all the small rodents (including rats). And all kinds of birds, of course. I remind myself of the neighbour thing when I find deer-nibbled plants.
Yes, everyone has to eat… Thanks, Audrey!
It was marvellous to see all the photographs in your original post. I am so pleased you re-published it! How interesting to be able to identify so many tracks laid out on the snow.
Thank you, Anne, glad you liked it. 🙂 It’s fun to see who visits in the night (mostly). We have guidebooks for animal track IDing, but now with the internet, it is even easier.
That must have been fun, Eliza. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.
The few times I’ve seen them over the years, they are moving constantly, often playing as they hunt, never missing an opportunity to chase one another or slide down a bank a few times just for the fun of it.
You have such wonderful neighbours Eliza and so lovely to see an otter slide too! 🤗💖
Thank you, Xenia! It was a delight to see.
So much beautiful wildlife you have around you! Those tracks you find are very revealing. ❤
I'm wondering, do you have animals "native" to the US? We have native Australian animals, and any animal regarded as non-native is taboo, and fair game for the local council authorities. I wondered if you have laws such as these?
We have mostly native animal species here, but other areas, particularly watersheds and oceans, have invasive fish and mollusks– Carp and Zebra Mussels come to mind. We’re struggling to keep out Asian insects like the Emerald Ash borer and Long-horned Beetle, as well as plants, which are numerous.
As far as open season hunting goes, coyotes bear a lot of aggression from farmers and hunters who falsely believe they hunt livestock (they don’t), but eat small game such as mice, etc. They will scavenge dead deer if the opportunity arises. They will take a baby deer if they can, but culling naturally takes care of the weak, strengthening the herd. Human development puts pressure on their natural prey but they have adapted to urban areas, and have been known to take cats and small dogs, which drives folks to want to eradicate them. Humans don’t really ‘play well with others.’
Are coyotes and deer native to the states? We have wild foxes and dingoes in our area, dingoes being native to Australia. Many people believe we should eradicate foxes (I don’t believe it’s possible or should even be considered) but dingoes being native animals, they believe they should be preserved. Both hunt hares and rats, so I don’t see the difference! It’s simply the “label” – native or non-native – that sways peoples’ perception of the animals. I wonder how the “preserve only native animals” crew would feel about otters if they were wild in Australia? 😉
Coyotes and deer are native to the US, but species vary East to West. The deer family includes moose, elk and several other deer species. Western coyotes are different than Eastern coyotes, the latter DNA includes western coyote, wolf and dog.
Humans have introduced non-native species all over the world and it has clearly changed many ecosystems…we’re only beginning to understand the consequences. We’ve opened Pandora’s Box and must live with those consequences. As I frequently say, “The horse is out of the barn.”
How wonderful, Eliza!! Otters seem to know how to enjoy life. 🙂 Our otters have disappeared. I haven’t seen any signs of them at all. I’m wondering if the trappers got them (although I did not see the traps out on our part of the creek this year — perhaps they were around the bend somewhere).
Thank you, Robin. I do hope yours have just relocated to feast elsewhere. I’m always pleased to see they have been by.
What a treat to see an otter slide in the snow around a waterfall and down into the stream! I’ve never seen an otter in the wild, although they say we do have them in our area. Last spring we saw a bear print in the mud by a stream… It is fun seeing the variety of footprints in the snow.
Always after our first snow of the winter, I am astounded at just how many creatures share our land that go undetected the rest of the year. We are outnumbered! 😉
Yes, animal tracks are super fun to see. From all the bird-feet prints to wingtips, bunny-hop prints, fox or coyote prints across the yard & deer & squirrels and rodent tracks and tunnel mounds. Great post with all the photos, glad you ‘re-blogged’…as 6 years ago I hadn’t started following your wonderful blog. You don’t have any trail-cams set up…that would be even more fun!
Thanks, Alice. A trail cam would be a fun record to see who is passing through.
Wow…you have the whole gamut! Our most common track across the meadow are coyotes, but we also get turkeys, fox & a whole lot of squirrels! Thank goodness for snow! Nice post.
Thank you! ❤
I loved reading this again, Eliza, thanks for sharing! So cool to see all those tracks!
Thank you, Julie!
How exciting to see an otter!
Thank you– as they are mostly nocturnal, they are a rare sighting. The slides in the snow are evidence that they are alive and well. 🙂
I didn’t realize they were nocturnal. I’ve only seen them on nature shows.
Technically, they are diurnal, but the times I’ve seen them is early or late in the day in twilight.
Wonderful post, thank you for sharing
Thank you, Karen. 🙂
The otter must have been so much fun to watch! I’m envious!!
Their playful nature makes them a delight. Kind of like watching kittens at play. 😉
“Living in the country as we do, we share our land with many wild creatures.” – when I saw the picture I immediately exclaimed how lucky you are, Eliza. No wonder you have such a vibrant aura and kind energy about you – it’s not everyone that’s blessed to be around animals and in the lap of Mother Nature herself! The way you appreciate your blessings only go on to prove how gratitude is the key to unlock infinite blessings. I’ve said it before and would like to reiterate (in keeping with your re post 😉 ) how therapeutic your posts are! They’re really an escape ❤️
Thank you for your wonderful and kind comment, Isha. I do feel blessed to live in this paradise. So glad you enjoy my posts, it’s sweetly affirming. 🙂
Identifying tracks is fun and the snow makes them more visible. Here we are on the lookout for tracks from the mountain lions that share our mesa. Since their claws retract they can be distinguished from other critters, like big dogs. There have been several sightings lately.
You must have to keep out a sharp eye for puma! I suppose they generally avoid humans, but I’ve read of attacks on runners that excite their chase instinct. Do you have grizzly bears? I would be very nervous about seeing one of those!
It’s fascinating to hear how many creatures you get visiting in your part of the world. Opossum and raccoon tracks are completely new for me! Deer are the only ones I could clearly recognize out of all of your tracks. We see tracks like fox, hare, field mouse and various birds here. Thankfully I haven’t come across any wild boar tracks as apparently there is a group somewhere nearby in the woods. Love the slides made by the otters. Do you have beavers too?
Thanks, Cathy. We have many tracks to see in winter– lots of different birds, large mammals like moose and deer, and small rodents and yes, our biggest rodent is the beaver which we sometimes see in our river when the young ones search for new territory. Nearly every wetland/pond around here has a beaver lodge in it. In the past 30 years the population has rebounded, largely due to a change in the trapping laws and fur pelts going out of fashion.
How exciting and your identification skills are impressive, as always, Eliza. Would love to see those otters sliding! 🙂
Thank you, Jane. They are nimble little creatures!
I love otters – who doesn’t enjoy their playful antics? I wish more people here felt the same respect for the wild creatures surrounding us. While I certainly don’t want my cat eaten by a coyote, or rabbits and peacocks eating my plants, or raccoons digging them up, I acknowledge their right of way and don’t support trapping them – or worse.
Yes, there has to be a ‘third way’ where we can live in harmony. Wild animals have to eat and coyotes, for instance, often eat rodents which is a service to us. Protecting our pets by keeping them on a leash is the easy price we pay for that service.
I love looking for animal prints in the snow.
It’s always fun to see who comes through when we aren’t looking. 🙂
This was very interesting, and I must admit I’ve never seen an otter or several of those other animals you mentioned. Wow – you live in a nature preserve. 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us folks who are use to seeing deer, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, and groundhogs. 🙂
Thank you, Judy. It does feel close to wilderness out here. I once tried counting species we’ve seen here and I got past sixty, then gave up because there were still so many left, I just rounded it to 100! 😉
More creatures than corn!!
Oh hell yea that was a friggin awesome post! So cool to see so many critters around there. You should do more animal posts if you can. This was one of my favorites! Love ya!
😀 Glad you liked it– thanks!
A beautiful visitor for you! Love the captures 👏🥰
Thank you, Karen. “Otter’s symbolism and meaning reflects the ability to play, and to find renewed joy in your life for balancing out the more stressful or demanding times in life.” A good message!
A great message! 👏🌈
Loved the post. The willingness to let go, and be in the moment is the mindset from which such a wonderful articulation and photos emanate. I would encourage you to write more such posts.
Thanks, Shakti. I wrote a lot in my earlier posts, but moved on to focus on photography. I encourage you to have a look back to those early articles. I might repost a few to give them more press. 🙂
Snow certainly does give us a good idea who is out and about. Nice post, Eliza!
Oh that Otter sounds like a treat to see! Such joie de vivre!
Indeed, otters possess that spades. 🙂
Great post! As you can imagine, I love tracking and it’s always nice when snow is at the right depth to get a good clear print. How long do your bears sleep for? I have seen them in winter on the west coast but of course in the Rockies, they disappear for months.
Thanks, Adele. I’ve never seen a black bear between Dec. and March, but I’ve read that the males esp. only sleep intermittently, foraging occasionally. The females are more likely to den with their newborns through to spring.
A different and exciting world brought to life in the winter! I often wonder about the tracks I see in the snow…Enjoyable post, Eliza!
Thank you, Belinda! That year was a particularly good one for tracking.
I had no idea you had so many wonderful animals to track on your property and how exciting it must have been to watch the otter sliding by your waterfall!!! This week the only new interesting tracks our the turkey prints on the roof and for some reason they were pounding on the roof (can’t be due to a lack of food).
Maybe turkey mating season is starting early. 😉
Last night I saw at least four deer in the backyard. Unlike you, I’m not so thrilled to see them nibbling the shrubbery, but if they move on quickly, I let ’em be. 😉
How wonderful, so many tracks. Its wonderful to know these creatures are around even though we rarely see them.
Thank you, Carole. So nice to hear from you, hope you are well!
As others have said its wonderful to have the snow confirm the presence of such a diversity of animals and thrilling indeed to be able to see (and identify) their tracks and know that you share the same spaces with them.
Most animals come out only at night, so at least we can see who is around. The deer come by frequently, something I don’t care for as they nibble the shrubbery, but not much I can do about that!
I wonder if you can plant easy-to-grow things that deers particularly favour as a decoy away from other plants?
Since we live in the woods, there is plenty of browse for them. I’ve just learned to plant only deer resistant plants… no ‘deer-candy’ allowed!
I LOVE otters, but so far have always seen them at the zoo, not my back yard, not in the snow. They are so playful! Once I watched three generations of female otters playing in the water for an hour. I was mesmerized!
We can learn a lot from otters! 🙂