So what does being fat have to do with the Hennepin Canal? Well, nothing other than the fact that I have replaced my photography endeavors with biking for awhile. Not permanently, but less photography, more exercise! I love to ride the canal, and although I've been leaving the big camera at home, I still bring my point-and-shoot along with me. Of course there won't be any detailed closeups of critters, but instead, photographic evidence of animals better than most bigfoot sighting photos:)
Today I biked past Atkinson, and it was quite a brisk ride. As I'm cruising along, I spot what I strangely thought was a black garbage bag blowing across the ground on the other side of the canal. Have you ever had one of those optical illusion moments where you aren't seen things correctly, and then all of a sudden reality slaps you upside the head!? This was one of those moments. After adjusting my eyes, I realize it is an otter on the south bank sniffing around! This is only the second otter I have ever seen on the canal. I dropped the bike down, got the little point-and-shoot out of my pack, and proceeded to slowly stalk a little closer.
The otter wandered down the bank toward the ditch creek, so I jumped on my bike and hauled a## to the bridge and onto the other side (what a great workout). I stopped and abandoned the bike about 50 yards from where I had last seen it and proceeded to quietly creep forward. When I was about 20 yards away, I was spotted and he dashed across the path and back into the canal.
Thinking I had seen the last of him, I just stood on the edge peering into the water, but apparently, this guy was quite curious and cautiously swam around the area looking at the ugly beast that had just disturbed him. He even vocalized a bit at me! It was more of a chuffing sound, which was really awesome. Shortly after, he disappeared out of sight.
I walked the rest of the way to where I had seen him first. There was a nice path going from the canal down into the drainage creek.
I was hoping to find some tracks or sign. I did find some old otter scat, but nothing fresh.
This little surprise made a bike ride definitely worth it. I'll be revisiting this spot later in the week with my good camera. Despite the point-and-shoot camera and super cropping, I'm happy with the otter evidence collected today. It's great to see otters in the Hennepin, and hopefully we will be able to enjoy them for years to come!