Surprise Ending

Close-up view of a great egret's face

I spent New Year’s Eve at Ridgefield from sunrise to sunset. It was sunny and cold throughout the day and the shallower ponds had partially frozen. Near the end of the day I was parked near the start of the auto tour so it would be easy to leave before the gate closed. A great egret was hunting bullfrogs in the shallow channel beside the road and I expected it would be my last wildlife sighting of the year. Not a bad way to end the year.

A river otter breaks through the ice so it can take a breath

But then I heard a loud crack in the ice and looked down to see that a river otter had punched though the ice to come up for air. It didn’t stay long before submerging and swimming out of sight, but it made me laugh, Ridgefield giving me one last surprise to close out the year.

Surprise Ending

The egret had moved on, the otter had swum away, so I was about to pack up my camera for the trip home when a couple of hooded mergansers swam by in open water beside the ice, beautiful in the last light of the day. My goodness but the refuge was putting on a display. After a quick scan to make sure bigfoot wasn’t hiding in the bushes, I packed up my camera and headed home.

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