89 BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST • JULY/AUGUST ’ 17 • birdwatchersdigest.com
phone screens? But who am I to
disparage a game he truly enjoys,
especially if it gets him outdoors?
And I began to wonder if there
could be a way to meld the thrill of
the virtual chase with the pursuit
of birding in this impossibly beautiful real-life world. We’re using the
same skill set, searching out, pursuing, and classifying our quarry.
Why must they be virtual animated
characters when there are wood
thrushes, pewees, and woodpeckers
in the trees all around? Who could
concoct anything more worth seeing than an American redstart or
an indigo bunting?
Maples murmured in a cool
breeze, casting deep shadows on
the gravel road. As we neared a
bend where PawPaw Creek curves
close to the road, I started to tell
Liam about a mink I’d seen this
winter, that plopped into the water
and swam, furry tail held high,
then looped out, up onto the bank
and into the underbrush. Perhaps
four words had left my mouth
when I gasped and whisper-screamed, “Otters! Otters! Liam!
Those are otters!”
At the precise place where I’d
seen the mink months earlier, a
big female otter and three kits
swirled and dove in the current.
Her head periscoping around, her
round eyes wide with surprise, the
female called her kits around her.
They puttered to her, swimming
in tight circles, and followed her in
a leisurely swim down the creek.
The trio of kits was so young
their tails stuck straight up out
of the water as they paddled, and
they were so buoyant that their
dives barely took them underwa-
ter. I took my compact running
binoculars off and shoved them
into Liam’s hands. I’d found their
tracks, scat, and slides on this
very creek years before and a mile
downstream. And I’d seen otters
before, but never in Ohio. Liam
had never seen them at all!
The otters made their way to
a steep, well-worn mudslide on
the opposite bank. Why had I
not noticed that before? Only
otters could have made that! To
our delight, they hauled out, J U L
A family of otters at
Country roads can