Sneaky Muskrat at Forest Park

January 7, 2015

Last week, I headed to Forest Park to look for a photo opportunity. I hadn’t been there for several months and I couldn’t think of a better place to spend a bitterly cold morning than sitting in my turkey chair in the tall, prairie grass along the creek in Forest Park.

I arrived at 0-dark-30, found my favorite hidey-hole, and settled in. The first hour was a bust, except for a few mallards and wood ducks that came by for a visit. Finally, as the sun began filtering through the typical, low-hanging clouds of this winter season, I noticed a young cottontail across the creek. It appeared to be coming down for a drink so I watched it intently, waiting for a good shot.

Unfortunately, my cottontail tunnel-vision caused me to miss a shot of a little muskrat that was swimming right toward me from upstream. By the time I swiveled my camera away from the shoreline and the rabbit, the muskrat had found a shallow spot to rest and groom its fur. The bad news is that the wily muskrat was well hidden behind a stand of brush on my side of the creek. I watched as it executed several unique poses, and kicked myself for not being better prepared.

After about 10 minutes, the muskrat crossed to my side of the creek before starting back upstream. That is when I captured the featured image. I was pleased to get the shot, but still perturbed at my failure to get a better image when the little fella was resting.

The second image shows more of the muskrat’s body as it swam by my location into better light in the middle of the stream. I liked the wiry hairs sticking up from its rear flanks.


The muskrat was so close that I never got its entire body in an image. Also, it flinched at the first click of my shutter and only allowed these two images before it dived, never to return for the rest of the morning.

I stayed for a few more hours, watching for minks, raccoons and other critters, but to no avail. I was still happy that the elusive “rat” made my 100-mile round trip to Forest Park worthwhile.

I’ve attached a final and much better image of another muskrat from Busch Conservation Area. I made the image several years ago while photographing ducks on the shorebird area and it has found its way to several publications. This image demonstrates the breathtaking power of soft, morning light on wildlife photography.


Thanks for looking,


Email me at:  NatureFrames@Rocketmail.Com

All images were made with a Canon 1D Mark IV; Canon 500/4 L Lens; Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod and Wimberley II Gimbal




2 comments on “Sneaky Muskrat at Forest Park”

  1. Those muskrats are sneaky but beautiful. Great shots.

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