Monday, 12 December 2011

Otter diary 1

It’s hard to resist a good bridge – they’re brilliant places for finding signs of otters. Sometimes footprints are visible but more often you’ll see spraint, as otter scat is known. These deposits are uniquely scented and are often compared to jasmine tea, which is a pretty accurate description may  (be warned, if you get into otter tracking there come a day when you start thinking “Mmmm, this jasmine tea smells like otter spraint”).

Having recently found some fresh, fishbone-filled spraints beneath a bridge over a nearby stream, I put up the camera trap in the hope of getting a picture of this beautiful and elusive mammal. 

Now what do you reckon: a breeding pair, or a female with one of her offspring?
For a few days I resisted the temptation to keep checking the camera, savouring the wait and the growing chances that some of our neighbours might pass by. Then I was walking by a few days ago, feeling a little low, and decided now was the time. Wading beneath the bridge in neoprene wellies (a great invention) I took down the camera and scrolled through the pics – and there they were, just a few days before. Wet, sleek and lithe, two otters, right in the middle of the day! The picture cheered me up no end. There were quite a few otter shots, as well as some of a weasel, a wood mouse and a robin.

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