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Muskrat Love

early spring flowers

These delicate flowers grew near a stream and were the earliest blossoms I saw this spring (after crocuses).

Finally we have spring-like weather in central Pennsylvania but I’m not home to enjoy it. When I consider how plants looked a week ago, I imagine two bright yellow patches of forsythia in full-bloom, daffodils popping along the front of the house and the right border of our front yard, and hyacinths peeking out from among tulip leaves that haven’t quite gotten their own buds above ground.

Maybe, just maybe, my fruit trees have started to blossom. That needs to have happened soon (if it hasn’t) for this to be a “normal” spring.

bee in spring

Apparently, there weren’t a lot of flowers in bloom two weeks ago. The one bee that got an early start from its hive must have searched for hours to find the small patch of flowers I was photographing. I enjoyed the company.

 

Finding Flowers

Just before I left home to spend what will have been two weeks in Ithaca, I’d spent part of a gorgeous spring day walking along a stream where I spotted delicate blossoms hugging the ground. I dallied with my camera and then noticed something far less likely on the stream bank: there stood a muskrat chewing on vegetation.

Usually when I spot a muskrat, it’s scurrying away, diving into water, or darting into a hole. This one ignored me and continued to munch… and then I spotted a second one.

Muskrat Love in the Afternoon

Drifting with the current, the second muskrat came into view from upstream, floated past the first muskrat, and swam to shore about ten feet later. It had obviously spotted the first muskrat and it waddled quickly back along the bank.

This was a classic boy-meets-girl moment where girl (muskrat #1) ran into the stream and boy followed her. They drifted together with the current, all the time muskrat #2 pursuing muskrat #1. Eventually they drifted out of sight but by then I had no doubt: I’d witnessed muskrat love. I can say with authority it’s nothing like the song.

muskrat on a stream bank

I looked toward the stream, and there she was: a gorgeous muskrat chomping on the foliage!

muskrat rendezvous

As I clicked shot-after-shot of the fearless muskrat, a second one floated past with the current, swam to shore, and ambled onto the bank. The first muskrat reacted by setting itself adrift. In this photo, the second muskrat approaches overland as the first one takes to the water.

snuggling muskrats

Seems these muskrats are courting. Actually, by the time they drifted out of sight, the courtship was over. Various websites suggest there will be baby muskrats about two weeks from now (gestation is one month).

 

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