Yellowstone Reports

Printer-friendly version

Showdown on the Banks of the Lamar

Otter vs. Heron
by Linda Thurston

Sept. 7, 2015

Several exciting encounters unfolded in the Lamar Canyon this afternoon.  An otter trio delighted those who watched them slip on and off boulders, occasionally emerging from the water with a small trout in their mouth.  Raised in slack water ponds and lakes, these otter pups were now large enough that their mother brought them to a river to develop their fishing techniques. 

At one point as onlookers watched, the otters lunged towards a family of mergansers that floated down the river.  The water fowl immediately took flight and left the area.  The otters bobbed in and out of the water for about another 15 minutes in a scene reminiscent of children playing Marco Polo in a swimming pool.  Then a great blue heron emerged on the shore, previously blending in perfectly with the rocks.  The otters climbed up on a sandy beach, and the slate-colored fisherman had no patience for their shenanigans.  It turned out that a sharp bill is nothing to mess with, even for some mischievous mustelids. 

The heron chased the otter family about 20 yards down the river, even flashing its wings to show that it meant business.  The otters ran down the bank and slipped into the river as the heron escorted the family out of its fishing hole once and for all. 

This was a first for me.


View slide show

Lamar Otter Trio

Scattered Mergansers

Beached Otters

Grumpy Heron Chases Otters