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The lame naturalist

The lame naturalist

So, like the famous novel by Miguel de Cervantes, could begin this story. But on this occasion, it will not be a lame, if not rather a lame, the author of these lines; that is, myself. If you continue reading until the end you will understand perfectly the reason for this "literary" beginning ...

Everyone knows my aversion to hunting. Because not a single one of the arguments that the hunters wield has validity in our days. Not one. So when, during one of my usual outings to the countryside, I discovered the lifeless body of a heron, I immediately assumed that it was one of the countless victims of this group.

The deep wound which appeared in the head, perceptible to the naked eye, reinforced the hypothesis of death by shooting. But this end was difficult to prove. The bird was in a place inaccessible to me. I could only make a series of photographs to document the finding.

The animal, inert, lay on the drenched shore laid bare by the low tide. The river that gave birth to him had now become his deathbed. Sad destination for one of the most beautiful creatures of the Iberian fauna. How is it possible? What sick mind can do something like that? Who benefits from this? I would never understand.

There was a respectful silence ... As if nature mourned the loss of one of his own. The living harpooner, the powerful flying wader and fragile appearance, the highest representation of elegance and beauty, turned into abandoned remnant and forgotten by all ... Only the melancholy song of a little robin put a friendly note in all this drama .

The corpse with a deep wound on the skull. // The Naturalist Cojo

I did not dare to move a single muscle, but I am convinced that she saw me perfectly. However, she was completely oblivious to my presence. Seconds later, he turned and walked several yards before reaching a thick branch that he climbed to rest.

Soon his tranquility would last ... The water would stir again, and a second character appeared on the scene. I soon identified it with the binoculars. Another otter! I could not believe what I was seeing. I quickly and nervously drew my P900. It was time to start recording.

As if to impress me, otters showed off their incredible swimming qualities. Together, with their heads in front and arching their bodies, they jumped out of the water like a group of dolphins on the high seas. I soon realized that all this deployment was at the service of food, of confusing and catching their slippery prey. Then, with their sharp teeth, they chewed on the small fish they managed to catch.

In an overconfidence, I decided to get out of the car so I could photograph them better. Serious mistake that would pay dearly. They both got scared. Discontented with myself, but at the same time happy ... Happy to have managed to document something that very few people have occasion to see in nature. It was my tenth personal appointment of this species. And I celebrated it all over.

I could not take my mind off the poor heron. I had to do something. And that something happened to call to the SEPRONA before the high and the current drag the lifeless body of the ardeida downstream.

We wanted to recover his remains. Analysis of the skull would allow the finding of pellets housed inside. But it was not going to be easy. An unstable slope of earth, mud and stones made it practically impossible to carry out this work without taking unnecessary risks. The height of the wall and an improper slip could have serious consequences ... Several failed attempts were enough to the experienced naturalist to realize it. So, by appealing to common sense, we give up our intentions.

American Mink Preying on Carrion. // The Naturalist Cojo

But this story is not finished here ... What for some is the end of a cycle - of its life cycle - for others is nothing more than an unexpected gift. When I returned from leaving 'Tin' in his house, I received a surprising message from WhatsApp: "Manu, I just saw an American mink predating the heron." p>

A stunned expression was drawn on my face. The sender was César Blanco Arias, a great friend and companion in my endless days of bicheo . We had previously stayed in that area, with the fortune that as soon as it reached the exotic and carnivorous invader, it took a real banquet. When we meet, we comment on what happened. I was sure if we waited a little longer I would sit at the table again. And he was right.

Ten minutes later, a dark shadow walked steadily toward the carrion. Automatically, Cesar and I were silent so as not to disturb the diner. With his fine nose, the mink was blowing in the air in search of suspected enemies. When he finally had to consider that there were no Moors on the coast, he began to pluck the piece and to feed on its soft parts, mainly the belly. I remember perfectly the sound of the feathers separating from the skin to teeth ... The scene was awe-inspiring, typical of a National Geographic documentary.

With all the menu for him alone, our friend would soon be satisfied ... Approximately twenty minutes later, the show was over.

But that secret corner of the river still had me reserved one last surprise ... When I was going home, the splashes of otters were again being strongly noticed. At the exact point where the American mink had been set before, they were playing for the second consecutive day the merry otters.

Without pretending, we have been able to verify the coexistence between the two species of mustelids. As you can see, for obvious reasons, we have wanted to omit the exact location, even approximate, that is to say, of the otter pair. We do not want to give clues to lead friends. The same ones who, with all certainty, ended the life of the protagonist of this new entrance of El Naturalista Cojo.

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