I was walking down the hill from the bus stop and saw a brown shape lumping its way across it. I blinked. Probably a... raccoon? I was facing the sun so, y'know, must've been something like that.
It went down the path through the woods that I take home. It runs across the neighbor's property then ours. As I came round a stand of trees on the corner, I saw a large otter in the middle of the path. Not only that, she (I assume) had two little pups with her!
I really never expected to encounter an otter directly on my commute so I stopped and just sort of blinked for a while, convincing myself that I wasn't hallucinating. She looked at me and I could see the distinctive broad muzzle, gray nose, and sharp little eyes. She grabbed one of the pups in her mouth and lumped off with that unmistakable ottery gait, disappearing down the hill and through the bushes toward the neighbor's yard.
The other pup just lay there amid the leaves. I was worried maybe it was injured so I stepped closer. I think it was just young enough that it wasn't moving much on its own so it played dead. I could see it breathing comfortably, though, little eyes closed and nose and whiskers down against the earth.
I passed by and continued down the path. I kept watching behind me and after about a minute the mother reappeared to claim him. She gave me a quick glance then wasted no time in carrying her other pup down the hill. Through the trees, I watched the otters making a diagonal cut across the property in a line that led past the lower corner of our lot and toward our downhill neighbor. He's got a natural spring on his property that's the source for a stream running down to the inlet.
So I guess I can add otters to the list of wildlife visiting our woods! Quite the fun surprise for a Monday evening commute. :D