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.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Barn owl for the soul

Feeling the January Blues? Got a cold? Pay day still too far away? What you need, what everyone needs is a Barn Owl. The sight of a wild Barn Owl hunting is a wonderful pick me up. It makes the soul soar and the heart race and you can't help but smile broadly at the privilege of seeing this silent hunter go about his day. We went out into a snowy landscape yesterday, determind to see a Barny. We searched all our usual favourite spots and eventually struck gold when we saw not one but two owls in beautiful low late afternoon sunlight hunting the moor. They were quite far away and we couldn't get any closer but we watched them flying in and out of the barn and hunting for about 30 minutes and took a few hopeful shots. On the way home we saw a third owl also out and making the most of some NON rainy weather to stock up on voles. Hope you enjoy these snaps