Intrepid skiers aren’t the only ones gliding through Pinkham Notch
this month. As this photo shows, river otters take advantage of the slippery
winter conditions to body surf through White Mountain woods and waterways.
Their thick, sleek coats and their hydrodynamic shapes make
sliding the easy way to go—on mud, sand, grass, leaves, snow or ice. Otters are
active year-round and travel up and down river drainages, hunting for fish,
crayfish, and other aquatic food.
Otter scat is easily identified by the large proportion of fish bones
and crustacean shells it contains. With snow on the ground, it is easy to
find their dark droppings beside open water, where meals are eaten on the spot.
Look for web-footed otter tracks—walking, bounding, gliding—along
and through waterways.
At Pinkham Notch, the twin-ended beaver pond marks a divide
between two major watersheds. Once otters make it up the Peabody River from the
Androscoggin side, they have a long downhill run on the Ellis River to the
Saco. You can’t help but think their winter gliding must be fun!
Photos and text by Allison W. Bell, Co-Author of AMC's Field Guide to New England Alpine Summits and AMC Nature Notes guest blogger.