Nature clicks #69 - Common Muskrat with gorgeous fur

Common Muskrat
Nikon D300s, Sigma 50-500mm / f4.5-6.3 APO DG HSM


I had Monday still off from work and used the beautiful weather to check out what's going on in the Green Island Wetlands along the Mississippi at this time of the year. As I wrote often before, this area is my favorite place to study wildlife and make pictures of the animals that live in this habitat or just stop there during migration. We have the mildest winter so far since we live in this area and I was wondering how that may play a role about what animals are present. The first thing I saw, after going through the little village of Green Island and entering the wetland area, was this beautiful Common Muskrat. It was sitting on the thin ice at one of the few open water spots. It was chewing on some greens and used its front legs to get something to eat out of the water. This picture was of course taken before the muskrat went into the water diving for more food and you can really see how beautiful its winter fur looks. And this leads me right to the things I didn't enjoy to see yesterday. It is trapping season and I saw quite a few people checking their traps. Can you blame me if I grinned any time I saw someone returning empty handed to their cars? :-))

I shot from my "mobile blind", which is of course my car. It's not that I'm too lazy to get out of my car but many of the animals don't seem to bother if a car stops nearby. As soon you open the door they take off and your chance for making the image is gone. I usually shut off the engine. This is not only better for the environment, and of course my wallet (I sat in this spot for almost twenty minutes), but it also prevents vibrations coming from the engine being conveyed to the camera. The muskrat was pretty cooperative and stopped chewing once in a while. The pictures became blurry any time I missed the peak of action.

What other animals did I see? Not very many, a couple Bald Eagles, not within shooting range, and a few gulls. After two hours I moved on to Sabula, the little town on an island in the Mississippi. But this is another story for later this week...