As usual I got up early to do some computer work and as I gazed out the frosty windows (25 F on our back farm porch) I saw an indistinct black object moving around on a rock in the pond next to our house (see photos).

This rock often has interesting birds on it such as solitary sandpipers or green herons, sunning snapping turtles, or dragonflies and damselflies. The bluets really favor this rock.

At once I realized that it must be a mink and you may be convinced by the hasty photos I snapped before it plunged into the pond and swam away.

I only rarely see mink in this area- once before in our yard and once at Claytor Lake, yet they are obviously around. One of the neighbors told me they used to get at his chickens occasionally, and this seems appropriate for a large weasel. They are one of those cryptic mammals that we think are present but rarely get a chance to observe them.

Clearly the mink has a very thick and well-insulating fur coat since they are said to be one of the aquatic mammals that has no real blubber layer but relies only on fur to keep warm in cold water. the very thought of swimming this morning definitely sends chills up my spine!

Bill -Galax, VA