Our day off at last. Of course we went back to see whether we could strike lucky and spot our otter family again (this time equipped with our cameras) Nothing!
We went for a walk instead, about 4 miles up stream and came across a print on muddy bank - a lone otter and a big print (perhaps the daddy?) There's always something exciting about a print- something magical and hidden - when you touch the indentations and feel the shape and know that someone's paw was there just a few hours ago.
Having managed to allow the dog to become completely filthy we sidled back to the car with the plan of a pub lunch formulating in our tummies. We decided to head back to the village where I saw the otter family and grab a sandwich at the pub there. I couldn't resist stopping the car by the bridge to have a look-see. Simon said - wave if they're there and snuggled himself into his seat, whilst I braved the cold. Couldn't believe my eyes and luck when I peered over and spotted three backsides, heads beneath the shallows. The otters were under one of the arches in the shallows rootling about under the pebble river bed, perhaps for crayfish.
Waved frantically at Mr Oblivious and eventually he joined me for what became an hour otter watching session. We got incredibly close - they absolutely knew we were there, kept looking at us and quite happily going about their business. We watched them head up stream for a while and then decided to fetch the car and park in our original spot. When we hopped out again the otters were directly across from us and we had great views. Then they came over to our side of the river. We employed lochside otter spotter tactics (ie:run for a few seconds whilst they are submerged and then stand absolutely still) We got incredibly lucky as the little family came on to the bank about 1.5 metres from where we were hunkered down, trying to avoid dried reeds in our attempts to focus. Honestly, we thought several times they would scarper but they came right past us without any concern whatsoever. It was just starting to snow ever so slightly when the mother swam very close to me and made a grunting sound. I took the hint and we left the bank and watched them from the road as they swam on. Just before we lost sight of them there was an almighty ruckus as one caught a big fish or eel and they all tumbled about whickering and squeaking. We were both so bamboozled by the fantastically close encounter we could hardly concentrate on our lunch.
Although we've seen a lot of footprints, some spraints etc around the Ribble and Hodder we never really believed we could see a family of three hunting in broad day light (and this is my second time in under a week!!) I hope they got to a holt and snuggled up before the snow came down properly. I hope they will be okay and that we might see them again in coming weeks if we're lucky. Exciting thing is that when these babies finally leave mum, they will stretch out in search of their own territory and our otter population will expand and expand!
I will post a number of pictures over a few posts.
Please feel free to comment. Please please don't pinch our snaps.