Thursday, 31 January 2013

Otters on our local river

FINALLY and completely unexpectedly... I saw otters on the River Ribble today! Dropping some kids off for their voluntary service, I had an hour to myself. It is windy and cold and I'm suffering from laryngitis and a bad chest but decided to zip up and walk along the river for 10 minutes before grabbing a coffee. I did my usual scan of banks for spraint sites etc.. not with any more hope than usual. Suddenly I became aware of a high pitched whistling and perhaps even before my consciousness had a chace to work it out I saw under the arch of the bridge a movement, which again I sort of regsitered as mammalian before giving it too much thought. Saw it again and almost without emotion heard myself thinking "mink" Then I saw the tail disappear and knew. I snapped out my phone and tried a couple of pics. By this time I had reached the bridge and looking over the side - right below me there was an otter hunting. I could still hear the unmistakable calling of another otter and within seconds I saw her cub alongside her. Still though there was whistling from further down river. With phone held shakily I kept videoing and snapping away and eventually the otters came up on to a small islet right in centre of the bridge, enabling me to look right down on them. I could tell there was a second cub somewhere because the plaintive whistling continued and it wasn't coming from the pair I was watching. Then the second cub hove into view, swimming for the islet against the current. What a treat- could hardly believe my eyes and my hands, not only freezing from cold were shaking wildly. Watched the threesome for 45 minutes. The mother looked directly up into my eyes on a number of occasions but she seemed unperturbed and continued to roll, play and preen her youngsters. The cubs were near her size and nuzzled her side for a feed- which at one point she allowed. I feel high as a kite. So privileged. Can't wait to head back with my camera on my next day off but don't hold out too much hope of such a lucky view again.

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