Added value


In the first January week I started my 52-week photography project which should help me to use my camera on a regular basis and become more practised and experienced photographer. Thanks to this project I visited the town Švihov a week ago where my husband wanted to show me a nice cottage on a river bank. We were strolling along the river for a while, went to the near cemetery and eventually arrived at the local castle. The castle is moated and before we left, I asked my husband to go to the water with me so that I could try and capture ducks swimming there. It was getting dark and so after a few futile attempts we were ready to go home.

Then to our great surprise a furry animal appeared in the water, swimming towards us. It sat down just a few metres in front of us and started to feed on the plants growing in the shallow part of the moat. Repeatedly it was jumping into the water, grabbing a plant, sitting down with it in the same place, holding it in its paws and chewing it with its bright orange teeth. I couldn’t take my eyes of it as it was so funny and interesting to watch it. The animal turned out to be a coypu.

Coypus are native to South America but nowadays they live in many countries around the world, especially thanks to farmers who have been breeding them for their fur. On many occasions coypus escaped into the wild and where conditions suited them, they found new home there. Unfortunately their feeding needs may seriously damage vegetation of river banks and their burrowing causes erosion of the banks so they were pronounced to be invasive species.

Well, that is the reality, but it could not diminish my excitement caused by observing a coypu in the wild. I have seen a coypu for the first time in my life. There was not enough light for taking better photos but the coypu made my day and I felt grateful for the project that brought me there.

I used to complain a lot about not taking photos often enough and not growing sufficiently in the field of photography, that was my reason for starting the project. I bet you yourself know that condition when you are tired of your own complaining about something. Sometimes there is high time to do something about that and stop bothering both yourself and the people around you with the complaints and frustration. When you do that ‘something’ and stretch higher and wider, many times you can find out that the effort you have made brings a bonus, an added value. New relationships, interesting meetings, fresh opportunities, different perspective, unexpected spheres of interest, unforgettable moments. Some of them just wait for us along the way while others are conditioned by our effort. Gifts we would never be given without straining to reach for the stars.



  1. Soosie

    Oh. What a treat. Ducks are always a joy, but to see this invasive visitor would have made my face hurt with the breadth of my smiles.
    Thank you Petra, you were rewarded for stretching your horizons – and so are we.

  2. Marcie

    I've never even heard of a coypu before. What a lucky capture!! And – yes – so many times it's about simply going out there and 'doing'…that opens us up to finding new. Love that you're doing a 52-week project – :-)!

  3. Catherine

    I know the excitement that you express so well when you look into the camera lens and see an animal in the wild at the other end. Isn't it amazing. Somehow you can feel so close to them. I have never heard of this little guy a coypu, you have captured him so beautifully. Enjoy every moment of your 52 day photo project, it works!

  4. Ginnie

    These river rats, Petra, or beaver rats here in Dutchland, actually have eradicators here because of how destructve they are of the very important cnal systems throughout the country. Since so much of this country is below sea level. the canals are paramount for keeping us afloat, so to speak. But having said that, I can just imagine the thrill of seeing one so up-close-and-personal as you did. What a great photography project this is for you, putting your feet and eyes where your mouth is! HA! You make such a great example for us of doing something about our complaining. Thank you.

  5. Susan

    So, an outing with your husband to a cottage on the river, a cemetery and a castle and a coypu … I would say that you are stretching very high and wide !
    Great image, too!

  6. Sue

    Coypu…learn something new every day! And, what a great photograph and result from your outing.
    Your last paragraph, Petra, spoke volumes to me! I do fairly well with regularly challenging myself to photograph. BUT…I have really struggled with getting exercise. I was tired of complaining about my aching back. I've always liked yoga, but wouldn't practice it by myself. So I've committed (actually re-committed) to attending class twice a week. (I see a parallel to your 52 photography project!)
    This says it all – explains how I feel about re-committing to yoga: "When you do that ‘something’ and stretch higher and wider, many times you can find out that the effort you have made brings a bonus, an added value. New relationships, interesting meetings, fresh opportunities, different perspective, unexpected spheres of interest, unforgettable moments. Some of them just wait for us along the way while others are conditioned by our effort. Gifts we would never be given without straining to reach for the stars."
    Thank you for a wonderful post today!

  7. Susie@Life-Change-Compost

    I'm with Honey on this one: Coypu….who knew? The poetry of it makes me giggle. Great article, Petra! I love what you've written in the last couple of sentences, no self-pity for you girl!

  8. Barbara

    Ahhhh Petra – this is serendipity! Serendipity at its finest. I give you a big Amen and high five to all the benefits and blessings of photography you've listed here! Fun stuff.

  9. Linda At To Behold The Beauty

    I think you've captured a perfect picture of this little guy, in spite of the low-light situation you mentioned. I don't find much charming about the animal itself, but the photo is lovely. Whatever you're doing to enhance your photography, I'd say it's working. 🙂

  10. Gotham Girl Aka Robin

    What a cute little guy, but I can understand how destructive it could be! Love that you are doing the 52 photo project. I shoot almost daily and it really is about just showing up and doing it. You go girl!!

  11. Maery Rose

    I love the photo! But I was thinking it was a beaver. Silly me.
    Yes, we do (hopefully) reach a point where we stop complaining, wishing or over thinking something and just do it. I still am not doing what I'd like to do with my photography but this is my year to focus on my writing and I can only manage trying to improve in one area at a time. I want this to be the year when I stop talking about finishing my book and actually finish it. OK. "Finish" might be too strong of a word since there will be revision work to do but the full draft will be done. 🙂

  12. Donna@Gardens Eye View

    That complaining is what finally prompted me to retire at the end of this month. Practicing our skills is the best way to grow….so your participation in the project is wonderful. And I love this picture.

  13. SaucyKod

    Stretching ones horizons also stretches one mind and focus. Sometimes also, when we are bored, we come up with the grandest ideas. This was a lovely post. You took something, most people would think ugly and made it beautiful with history and photos. Round about, I have heard them called "River Rats", but I like COYPU better. They are a most interesting animal and your post was excellent. Thank you Petra and do some more of this – you write very well – I so enjoyed this. Have a wonderful day. Lilly

  14. CherryPie

    I am loving how your 52 week photography project is challenging you 🙂 I have used challenges to help me develop my photography vision (rather than my photographic skills).
    How wonderful that the day brought you many things to photograph, including the unexpected Coypu to top off your day 🙂

  15. Carola

    I first thought this is a muskrat who look similar to the Coypu. Sometimes I see them at "my" lake and I always get excited! So I can understand your excitement very well.
    I love your last paragraph. It resonated with me. I was frustrated about me not being able to draw and paint human faces. They always looked crooked. Then I decided to practice more and more – with the result that my faces got "better" (whatever that is) and I accepted that my faces are crooked and that this is my special feature. The eyes always are different, the nose is off etc. – well, these are Carola-faces!

  16. Zena

    It is the very first time I see a coypu too… what a funny creature!. Invasive species have a deep impact on biological diversity, in particular in enclosed territories, but has been a constant along history because human being thinks first of economic profit or personal pleasure and not of environmental needs. Luckyly, we are now a bit more aware of the dangers of these practices.
    I find very interesting the topic you´ve introduced on your last paragraph. You explain clearly the great difference between being reactive or proactive. As much as I can I try to be proactive and to initiate change (when something doesn´t like me or I am not happy with my circumstances) rather than reacting to events with concern or complaint. However, this is not always easy.
    On the other hand, I agree with you about the power of photography in order to make us see our context with new eyes… in fact, this is one of the reasons why I love taking photos so much.

  17. Kelly

    Your words rang so true for me this morning… we never can know what will be brought to us when we stretch our wings and reach out.
    And what a lovely surprise for you, I think he's a pretty cute little guy! Can't wait to see what other surprises your 52-week project reveals!

  18. Jennifer Richardson

    this stirred my heart to smiling…..I so love
    nature hikes with my camera.
    your little fellow looks a lot like our beavers
    and your image is wonderful!
    I so enjoy you and your shares….thank you,

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