The Small Things in Life

Judging from how few pictures I took on my last trip to Nisqually National Refuge, it might seem less than a successful trip. I didn’t see the Great Horned Owl or the Great Egret I’d seen the week before; in fact, I didn’t see a single new bird. For that matter, I saw very few birds at all.

I won’t cite one of those infamously tacky bumper stickers that proclaim “The worst day of fishing is still better than the best day at work? even though I suspect my worst day at Nisqually will always be better than any day I spent in the classroom. Birding reminds me a lot of fishing, and I would have to agree with Thoreau who said, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” Thankfully, I know it’s not bird pictures I’m after.

No matter how peaceful or relaxing the day, though, it’s always nice to have some special moment to remember it by. And for me that moment came rather unexpectedly.

I’d decided that if I were going to see any birds I needed to stand in one place and wait patiently for them. I had barely paused when I heard a rustling. Looking down, I saw this mink, if I’ve correctely identified him,

digging in the grass. He looked up, checked to see if I represented any immediate danger, and went back to digging.

Unfortunately, my 400 mm telephoto lens was at a disadvantage at such close range, and the automatic focus couldn’t decide whether to focus on the grass in front of him or on the mink.

Picture or no picture, I was thrilled by the close encounter with this wild, fearless little guy who had little time for me and soon disappeared into the tall grass, looking for his next meal.

While I’m still anticipating my first encounter with the river otters that others keep telling me about, I was delighted by my first brief encounter with a mink that wasn’t part of someone’s coat.