...because, having just finished writing the body of this post, my brain is now saying, "Uh uh—I'm officially done with the whole stringing words together thing for the evening."
Last night Wayne and Tara finally returned from their Irish sojourn, a trip that got extended by four days thanks to the European air travel hiatus. But despite having arrived back home in the wee hours of this morning, pub was open for business this evening. After I arrived, I joined Tara when she went out to check on her chickens and whether they'd produced any new eggs for her. My photo of the eggs themselves didn't come out all that great, but I think the chicken coop is still worth checking out anyway:
I also took this shot of their sprinkler at work, backlit by the setting sun:
After I left Wayne and Tara's I decided to swing by Nemesis Pond for a bit. There were even more swallows circling overhead this evening once the bugs started coming out than I saw last night, and at times they'd also come down and fly just above the pond itself. Most of the waterfowl were at the other end of the pond, with just the goose on her nest and her mate hanging out where I was. She never stirred, but he quietly floated along, dipping his head to grab some snacks now and then:
As was the case yesterday, activity in the pond seemed to increase as the light faded. Fish started jumping out of the water to capture insects, and I'm almost certain I spotted a turtle again. I also noticed forms swimming in the water that I was pretty sure weren't turtles—their movements had a rhythm much like that of a breaststroke swimmer, as opposed to the smooth glide I noticed with the turtle yesterday. So I kept a careful watch on the closest one of those shapes; thankfully, the surface was still enough that I could mostly track its progress when it went too deep to affect the water above it. I lost it when it reached the edge of the pond near where the goose sat, but kept my attention firmly focused on that area in case it decided to pop its head out. And suddenly it did. Not only that, but it started swimming right in my direction.
Unfortunately, between the low light and the reeds between me and it I had a hard time getting a focus capture on it. And the closer it got, the more the reeds in the foreground became a factor. So this is the only shot that really came out halfway decent:
Then it turned and swam across in front of me, where I had a bit more luck photographing it. In this shot, I liked the effect of its wake fanning out behind it:
And I liked this one because it provides the best overall sense of the animal's body—including its tail:
Despite the low light, seeing that tail both as it swam by and when it dove back under the water told me exactly what kind of animal I'd been watching: an otter. In fact, it wouldn't really surprise me if I'd been mistaking the otter (with an occasional turtle thrown in) for a beaver this whole time—there's no real way of knowing when the lodges in the pond were built, and I certainly haven't noticed any sort of decline in the surrounding tree growth during the weeks I've been visiting. Adult otters and beavers grow to about the same length overall, and until tonight I'd never seen the animal close enough to gauge its weight or the shape of its tail.
So, I feel a bit sheepish about most likely misidentifying what I'd been photographing for all this time. But I'm also excited at getting to see an otter in the wild at such close range, not to mention the prospect of perhaps observing an otter family in the future.
To close things out, a photo I took not too long after I arrived at the pond. I saved it for last because I love how the moon stands out from the vivid blue of the sky (which I didn't tinker with in any way after downloading today's images), along with a swallow that flew by overhead just as I took the shot: