I was paddling my kayak to a high, shell bank in the Cooper River to check on a nesting pair of Oyster Catchers I had been watching. I heard rustling in the nearby Spartina grasses so I backed away from the oyster bank to see what was stirring in the salt marsh. As I rounded the bank, I caught a glimpse of the mink as she was ferrying her pups to high ground. The full-moon tide had apparently flooded her home forcing her to relocate her brood. I watched as she carried them in her mouth, one by one, through the grassy water passage and then landing them onto a pile of soft detritus at the other end. In less than a foot of water she could disappear and then resurface in a flash with another pup. At one point she must have sensed my presence because she paused for a split second to look my way. I heard my camera fire away four images. Again she disappeared to return with yet another. I backed away to allow her peace to finish her chores. I will never forget the grace and efficiency she displayed that morning as she transported her family through the flood tide to safety.
PHOTO TIP: This image is an excellent reminder to me how important it is to pay attention, not only visually but to the sound clues offered you when working in the natural world. If I had not been sitting quietly, listening and following the rustling sound midst the grasses, I would have missed this amazing experience completely. While the image itself is special to me, the total experience is a treasured memory I’ll never forget. NOTE: When approaching wildlife, I move extremely slow, stop for a spell, listen and look for any changes, then move again only if I have not threatened or interfered with the natural behavior of my subject.
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