Sunday, March 25, 2018

always learning

There is a tendency to see things as larger than they are, especially when it comes to wildlife. And memories can grow, as well. One rarely, I think, remembers a hawk or a bear or a spider as smaller than it really was.

Well.

This morning, glancing out the porch window, I was astonished to see two otter-shaped creatures bounding around in the Upper West Side. Look right at the center of this image (left-click to embiggen):


They must be fishers,
because there is nothing else they can be.

I have seen fishers before, although not often and only once close enough to examine - an adult female that had been killed by a car, retrieved by a biologist, and thoughtfully stored in the refrigerator in my office. Hello.

Fishers, in my experience, are somewhat larger than ferrets.




These two were much bigger than ferrets. They were very similar in size to large otters! As my mind clickety-clicked through the possibilities - are they both unusually large males? are their winter coats making them appear bigger than they are? - I decided a combination of the open area and bright snow must be distorting my perception. Because, unlike even the muted tones you can see in these images, the high contrast of snow and dark animal meant all I was actually seeing was solid black silhouettes.

I was working hard at convincing myself that the "big animal" thing was just a trick of the eye, but then...

one of the critters began walking straight up to the corner of the fence closest to the house, maybe 15 feet away.
And I said, "It can't be a fisher - it's huge!"




Normally when something this unusual happens, I focus on paying attention instead of trying to get photographs. But this time - feeling that my sanity might later be in question - I tried to do both, hence these poor-quality images of two fishers - the first I have ever seen on my property.




One fisher was startled by something and loped down the paddock and across the road. The other ambled around for a while before heading out of sight, up my driveway. I quickly pulled on boots and went out to look for tracks in the morning's dusting of fresh snow.


And found a perfect set.
If you imagine a head added to the front and a big tail added to the back of those tracks, you get a pretty good idea of actual animal size.

So.
Apparently fishers can be a lot bigger than I thought!
I have learned something new today.

How is your Sunday going?
~~~~~

16 comments:

  1. Amazing to see! I have heard that they can be quite vicious, but have no validation on that. I just 'did a google' and it seems they will prey on small farm animals like chickens and cats - better keep your kitty inside until you're sure they're gone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know about "vicious" but they certainly can be a threat to poultry. Captain Hastings was crowing repeatedly and with great gusto when I was photographing the tracks, and I stuck my head in the barn and told him he might want to keep a lower profile for the time being.
      I have concerns, of course. But at least I now know the identity of the unfamiliar Mustelidae I smelled at the top of the driveway a couple of days ago. Never thought of a fisher!

      Delete
  2. Goodness - they look like small bears! I had no idea they could get that big. What a great catch to get them on film!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, right?! And I agree, when I was watching them young bears came to mind, but the proportions were wrong - and also, Mama would have been right there with them. I've had that situation here before!

      Delete
  3. How exciting! Great pictures. I had to look them up because I've not heard of fishers before. That means I learned a whole lot of something new. :) Have a good week.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow! I have never seen one of these--not sure they even live in my area! Your photos are great. How exciting to see them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think most people who live in fisher territory never see one - and I can guarantee there are 13 goats here who would prefer not to ever see one again! They were upset for hours.

      Delete
  5. New to me as well; the first one looked like a bear cub, but then, my eyes are *horrible*. In looking a bit further, they are called "fisher cats"...interesting. What I read said "vicious if provoked". Well. Aren't we all, eh? lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Fishercat" for fisher is like "polecat" for skunk, and since both are very unfair to cats, I stick with the more accurate names ;)

      Delete
  6. What a wonderful sighting Quinn! We have seen these far north when camping, but they are very secretive. They do look huge, but having seen them so rarely I'm no expert on the size. Maybe they're looking for a den? I'm glad you came to and got some photos ;)
    Wendy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wondered if it was a pair, but if so, both were very large. Although they are very interesting animals, I hope they will not make my place part of their territory. On the "up" side, though...they do eat squirrels. Just saying!

      Delete
  7. Wow! great photos I hope they don't cause you problems.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow-they are huge! The look like small bear cubs : )

    ReplyDelete
  9. What an experience! I have never even heard of fishers. So I'll be looking up more info. "Always learning." :-)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving a comment! I enjoy reading each one, and will usually reply either here or on YOUR blog!

Due to spam, Anonymous comments are blocked. I'm hoping to avoid the annoying Word Verification gizmo! If you find you cannot leave a comment, please email me so we can try to sort it out.