Sunday, 15 February 2009

15th February

Traveled a little further today to visit a mother with two cubs, it was certainly worth the effort! After having covered quite a bit of this very isolated coastline I was beginning to think that i must have missed the family i hoped to find here, along the way I had seen one otter, all be it briefly swimming around a distant headland, which i was fairly sure was not the mother I was looking
With the weather fare and with one last little favourite haunt of hers still to check , I carried on. As I approached, fresh spraints around the 'lie up' on the bank could be barely an hour or so old, at most. Had I gone passed them or were they ahead of me I wondered, as I sprawled out onto the grass crawling forward to view the shore that I have watched them on so many times before.
I peer over the bank, laying tight into the base of an old pile of stones; the unmistakable site of otter bodies toiling together on the bladder wrack sea weed- Yes, they are here! The onshore wind takes my scent far away from them, I settle in with my camera and lens peeking through out of the dead grass. From here I am only about 20 meters away from them, countless times i have enjoyed encounters such as this with otters but every time my hear pounds like its the first!
I watch and photograph them for some time, romping around, the cubs continually harassing one and other and mother too. I am rather distressed to see that the mother, who has been in this range for at least two years now, has some fierce wounds, mainly on her rump which she must have sustained in a battle over territory. Thankfully she looks healthy otherwise as I watch her feed off shore with the cubs for a while before eventually after coming ashore again sprainting and then grooming, they settle in and drift off into a much needed snooze. I sneak away, as quietly as I approached.

Friday, 6 February 2009

6th February

Went back to the new site today; literally within minutes of arriving I caught site of the mother with her two young cubs. There is a few hundred yards of tall peaty banks above the shore between me and the play full family, just on the waters edge on small pebbled beach. I slide down the bank so my silhouette no longer breaking the sky line to them, now with the bank behind me, with my camouflage I am pretty much invisible to the.
Extremely cautiously I move along the shore a short distance, before setting up my telescope to watch from a distance. Knowing the lay of the land here I know that after the bank slopes down to the flat of the beach, only a couple of hundred yards ahead, I would have no bank to hide bellow and she would be sure to detect the imposing human outline; I sit tight, able to view and enjoy the family, blissfully unaware of my presence.
I can see now that the mother has obviously taken them ashore a treat, a very large one; a lump sucker, which is almost a 3rd of the size of these young cubs. This is much larger than the prey a mother will usually bring back to shore for cubs, especially of this age, never the less it appears that it is being heartily enjoyed.
The larger of the two, I assume to be a dog, seems to be wearing the trousers here, as it seems to be doing all the eating, the other is more intent on playing with mother! After a while they take to the water, keeping very close together, the cubs almost continually calling as if they hate being in the water at all! I find it so endearing to watch their fluffy and very buoyant bodies on the waters surface. Iwatch them for a further half an hour as they follow mother in and out the water but I never see them dive, perhaps they are still learning.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

February 5th

Spent most of the day at one of my favourite sites today and saw the many of the usual otters I would expect to as well as one i had not seen for over a year, when I saw her for the first time, (almost on the exact same date). It could be that her normal range extends only to the furthest extremes of the range of coast there which i cover, which is where i saw her today, so i guess is most probably the case given the length and shape of coastline.

She was with a dog, not fully grown but probably over a year old. They seemed to be enjoying a good old tumble in the sea, which lasted a good few minutes before she seemed to have had enough and saw off his attentions, what ever they had been. He was unfamiliar to me also which led me to think that this was probably her own son from the previous year and all it had been was a brief reunion. If so he may travel many miles when he sets out to find a territory of his own.

I made a mental note to cover more of this coastline than I do.
It frustrates and excites me knowing that outside this particular stretch of coast here which I visit fairly regularly, there are other residents making up totally separate social structures. This is something that I and Im sure other otter lovers just have to accept as I know for me I would rather be familiar with more otters at fewer sites than the other way round.

On my way back, nearing dusk I see two otters up on the grassy bank in the distance, they look to be both adults engaged in some sort of a stand off. I crouch bellow the bank and set up my scope. One of them was back on so I couldn't make out any ID features, but the one that is facing me is a dog I recognise. They are a long way ahead of me but I can hear the 'yickering' chatters leading me to think its a bitch. He is crouched with his front end nearing the ground, almost submissively then he decides enough is enough and backs off. Rather disgruntled he climbs down off the bank and down into the watter and in the direction she was heading carries on her way in the opposite direction. Perhaps she is almost in season I wonder to my self as I head for home.

Monday, 2 February 2009

February 2nd

Went out and about birding today and fairly unexpectedly came across a mother with three cubs, which i would say are about five or six months old. The mother is an otter that is far from any of my 'study' areas but do see from time to time, more often by chance than deliberation. I have not seen her since early last summer so was thrilled to see her alive and very well with three healthy cubs.
It was high tide when i saw her, just as she was no doubt returning from her essential hunting mission's. Unfortunately she was well beyond the reach of any of my lenses as I was watching her through my scope, which i was more than content to do, I know i will meet her again soon and hopefully get acquainted with her new family.