Saturday, September 07, 2013

Nora and the Mink

September 6, 2013

Nora the Schnauzer and I crossed Mill Creek on a weir near Rook's Park.
Splashing water wet Nora's belly and dampened the hem on my jeans, but didn't slop over my hiking boots.
Having already gathered several nice images of mallard hens waving their colorful wings and the usual great blue herons launching, landing and flying, I aimed to be home for lunch.

As we climbed the rip-rap on the south side of the creek, a mink dashed across a weir 30 yards downstream. It clinched a lunch of raw crawdad in its teeth.
I snapped off a few shots before it disappeared into a dark, triangle-shaped space among rocks the color and bulk of rusty diesel tractor engines in a junkyard.
Pausing for a few minutes, figuring the mink had settled down to crunch the crustacean, I checked the time on my Android.
Perhaps I could wait 15 minutes for the mink to reappear.
I scooted down onto a gentle incline recently gnawed bare of weeds by a rented herd of goats and watched with the big lens resting on my left knee.
Nora leaned warmly against my right side.
I waited and watched, scanning all along the rip-rap because the mink could slip from another opening in the rocks.
Perhaps three minutes passed before Nora stood and worked her way down to stand on the weir. She seemed to sense something. Perhaps the scent of the mink lingered in the air, or along the bank near by.
Anyway, I've learned from experience to follow her gaze when she acts that way. She sees and smells infinitely better than I do.
Sure enough, the mink (or a second one?) lay on a rock a few feet above the triangle-shaped space.
It stretched out, yawned, rubbed its face on a rock, preened, licked its bottom and scratched its ear.
It reminded me the way Nora relaxes.
I snapped several images and followed the mink as it meandered back down onto the weir and trotted lazily toward me.
I snapped steadily.
I nearly stopped when the mink slid to a stop and Nora's ear appeared in the view finder.
But I didn't.
Nora will chase anything that runs, cats, squirrels, rabbits, deer, elk and all manner of birds.
If anything stops, such as the neighbor's massive cat named Shadow or an otter that once refused to budge, she instantly backs off.
And blushes.
As Nora and the mink steamed northward across the weir, I kept a finger on the camera's release button.
In about five rapid-fire seconds, Nora apparently drew even with the mink and passed it by a nose before the mink slipped away into the deep water.
When I checked the LCD, as Nora swaggered southward across the weir again, the images supported my impression.
I waited and watched for several minutes, but the mink didn't reappear.
Nora also watched.
She led the way when we headed home.

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