A River Runs Through It – High Cold Desert; Part II

Mammals require water. When you are in a desert, water is limited. So, a major stream like the Green River is bound to attract mammals. The floodplain, too, provides critical food and habitat for the mammals. The vegetation is lusher, providing both a food source and cover for concealment. And the smallest of mammals seeking food and water are fed on by larger mammals. All of this leads to increased activity as you get closer to a water source.

Spending time along the river offers great opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography. But patience is still required. Afterall, humans are considered a threat to many mammals.

River Otters thrive along a river system. In fact, otters generally forage in the river itself, eating aquatic organisms such as fish, crayfish, frogs, turtles, and insects. I have even seen them feed on Brown Pelicans, after diving underneath the pelican and grabbing it from below.

A River Otter took advantage of the open water, searching the river bottom for crayfish and then crawling out on the ice shelf to devour its meal. Sony a1 + 600mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 840mm, ISO 400 f/5.6, 1/2500. ©Stanley Buman.

The Red Fox is a predator, feeding on smaller mammals. While water is critical, the lush vegetation growing in the floodplain provides cover and food for the fox and its prey, such as rodents.

This Red Fox was running downstream on the far river bank. It detected my slightest movements across the river and moved back slightly to be nearer cover in case it determined me to be a threat. Sony a1 + 600mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 840mm, ISO 800 f/5.6, 1/1000. ©Stanley Buman.

Porcupines feed on inner tree bark, twigs, and leaves. Trees can be found along the floodplain of the Green River. So, the best place to find Porcupines in a desert is near water, where trees can survive.

This Porcupine was walking over the snow, likely in search of another tree. Its quills offer it protection from predators as it moves through the open country. Sony a1 + 100-400mm lens @ 140mm, ISO 400 f/8, 1/3200. ©Stanley Buman.

Water is essential for life. A river in the desert is a magnet for mammals. A quick glance over the river bank may not reveal much. But if you spend time along the river and watch closely, you are bound to see an assortment of mammals sooner or later.

10 thoughts on “A River Runs Through It – High Cold Desert; Part II”

  1. These are so much fun. I love the fox phot. The way it is camouflaged and yet visible is really interesting.

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