What was that sound outside my bedroom window so early in the morning. I often hear crows but never like this. I went to my back deck to see 8-10 crows swooping around an object in one of the trees. After grabbing my binoculars, I saw the largest great horned owl I had ever seen…right here at Smith Mountain Lake! What was so funny to me is that the owl did not even budge.
After a quick google, I quickly found out that crows and owls are mortal enemies. If a crow finds an owl roosting in the daylight, especially in a clearing, they sound the alarm. That’s why there were so many crows. Before I could get my camera, the owl swooped across the golf course to another tree and the crows followed to disturb someone else’s morning.
That was just the start of the “Animal Planet” day that you can often have on and around the lake. With the variety of environments surrounding the lake, the entire animal kingdom of Virginia seems to converge around the 20,000-acre reservoir in Bedford, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties.
As I moved down to the dock to finish my cup of coffee, I hear a rustling of the leaves on the shoreline. Then something scurrying on the riprap. A river otter, which is shy by nature, runs along the rocks with a three-foot snake clenched in its jaw. I knew that he was around and thought he lived in a den near my neighbor’s dock, but I had never seen it so bold. Back to my google and I quickly find that otters eat not only fish, but snakes, frogs, toads and salamanders. Reading further, I see that otters are social creatures and live in family groups, sometimes up to a dozen. Maybe he was bringing breakfast to his pups.
I knew I needed to start my day, but was mesmerized, again, by the wildlife that I found right outside my back door!
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