A Mink Experience in the Watershed

A mink eating a fish at the edge of the creekMy mink experience occurred one spring morning while I was alone carrying out a flow transect on lower Millard creek below Highway 19A. The air was cool and I was in a peaceful location away from the trail and people. I was collecting flow information with a velocity meter along a tape measure stretched across the creek. The velocity meter is composed of metal cups that spin around an axis. When placed in the water, the metal cups spin like a pinwheel, and water speed data is transmitted through a wire to a set of headphones. To determine water speed, I count the number of revolutions that occur within a specific time period. This type of multitasking can be quite intensive; I had to jot down the notes, keep track of the time, count the sound pulses in the headphones and make sure the meter was free to spin.

I was working my way across the creek, collecting velocities at regular intervals, and I was listening intently to the static in my headphones and the twirling of the shiny metal cups on the meter. Suddenly, as I was focused on the twirling cups, a little head popped out of the water right in front of me and looked up at me. I was so surprised I let out a yelp, which caused the little mink to swim away for dear life. It was quite funny, and I had a good laugh at myself for being so jumpy. The mink was obviously attracted to the shiny spinning of the velocity meter. The best thing about working outside in nature, is that memorable encounters with its wild inhabitants can occur at anytime.

By: Lora Tryon, Watershed Biologist

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