One evening after work, I decided to head back down to Juanita Bay to see if I could get more shots of the beavers. I had been pleased with my first encounter and wanted to see whether there was a chance of getting some more shots. The weather wasn’t so nice but I had nothing on for the evening so decided to hang out for a while. I was there with nothing happening and the light gradually fading so set myself a target of 7pm. If nothing happened by then, I would go home. With about a minute to go before the top of the hour, a guy came out on to the deck I was on.
I figured I wouldn’t leave as he arrived since it would look like he had driven me away. I would wait to give him time to get bored and leave. Instead, a couple of minutes after I had planned to leave, out came a beaver. It swam straight towards me along the shore eventually coming right under where I was standing. I only had the long lens so it ended up way too close. I should have used my phone to be honest. I would never have seen it if it hadn’t been for his arrival.
I had a repeat a couple of days later. I had seen a pair of beavers swim by – not so close this time – and they had gone around into the inlet and I hadn’t seen them return. I was beginning to think I was not going to see them again but got a message from Nancy (who was traveling) to say she could chat. We had a call for a short while when I noticed a tree shaking not far from me. I told her I would call her back. One of the beavers had come across the land and was chomping on the tree. A little while passed and then it came down to the water, dropped in to the lake and swam right past me. I was ready for it to be so close this time. Another lucky break that I would have missed if it hadn’t been for the call.
I had been chatting with the photographers I meet down at Juanita Bay and they kept telling me about the beavers that come out in the evenings. I could see the marks they had left so knew they were active but I had not had any luck seeing them. The timing of their foraging was not ideal since it matched quite well with my own dinner. With Nancy taking a trip, I decided to commit some time to trying to get some photos of them. I didn’t have to try too hard!
My first evening down at the bay, I had barely got there when I saw my first beaver. The head out of the water was easy to spot when the water was calm. It was slower than the otters which we see there often and noticeably larger. The lily pads are growing quickly at the moment and this is a snack of choice for the beavers. They don’t need to come ashore to eat and instead float around the inlet stuffing as many lily pads in to their mouths as they can.
I decided to move from the end of the trail around to another deck area in the hope that the beaver would come that way. Predicting the path of wildlife is a tricky game but this time I got lucky and it came right in to the spot I was standing. A couple with a screaming child approached the deck and I feared the beaver would scram but it didn’t seem to care about us at all. It was happy chewing on its dinner.
After a while, it swam across to the bank and disappeared – presumably to digest the huge amount it had just eaten. The question was how long would it be gone? The light was getting very nice but much later and the sun would be behind the trees. I thought we might have a long wait but it didn’t take long before it popped out again. Swimming around in front of us and then heading back across the bay meant I was very pleased with my luck.
While sitting on the deck one afternoon, I was fortunate to have the camera to hand. As I looked across to our back fence, I saw a raccoon walking along the top of the fence between the two houses behind us. He seemed totally uninterested in our presence and walked to our fence and then turned left to wander across the back our our house and our neighbors’ houses. I had a long lens on and he was too close for a while to fit him all in. Along the fence he went and then disappeared from view. First time I have seen a raccoon around here but probably not the last. What other wildlife will visit us?
Walking through the woods at Meerkerk Gardens, we came across a tree that had fallen across the trail. Sitting on the log was a squirrel. This squirrel was happily munching on its food. We weren’t going to continue down the trail so were not likely to get in the squirrel’s way but we figured our very arrival would spook it. We were wrong. While it was clearly aware we were there, it did not seem to see any need to interrupt lunch just because of us.
As a Brit living in the USA, there are certain animals that, when you see them, seem most unusual because you don’t have them on the other side of the pond. Some of these are large creatures which people who grew up here are still fascinated by like bison. Others, though, are not so interesting to the natives. Raccoons seem to fit that bill. They are more of a pest to most people. To me, they are more exotic. As we were walking through Golden Gate Park, we came upon a family of raccoons alongside the trail. They seemed totally uninterested in the people walking by and more bothered about feeding. However, the click of the shutter was obviously enough to get their attention as they all perked up and stopped what they were doing when I took some shots. This didn’t last long, though, and they were quickly back to eating.
Sometimes I find myself wondering what is happening in the minds of little creatures. I was out shooting when I looked to my left and saw some earth move. It was probably only a couple of meters away from where I was standing so I looked to see if it would happen again. Sure enough, some more earth came flying out of the ground. Shortly afterwards, a little head popped out. It looked at me for a moment and then went back underground. This repeated several times. I would move the camera in its direction and it would instantly dive underground. However, since I knew where to look, I just kept the camera pointed in that direction and, when it came up again, because I didn’t move, it didn’t seem bothered. I have no idea whether it didn’t see me without moving or whether it didn’t perceive me as a threat and so carried on.
Rats have a bad reputation. It’s not tricky to work out why people don’t like them but I think they are rather cool. It’s hardly their fault that stuff has been built on top of their homes and they have had to adapt. The fact we waste so much crap that they can feed on is our fault, not theirs. They are, of course, a creature that likes living near water. While sitting alongside the bay near San Francisco, we got a visit from a local rat. He was busy gathering material for a nest I assume. He (or she) popped up from amongst the rocks by the water and headed into the brush. A little while later, back he came. He grabbed some material and dragged it off where he needed it. We were not making a lot of noise so he didn’t seem in the least bit bothered by our presence.