Wednesday 21 April 2010

It's a hard life - if your an Otter

After a gale and driving sleet/snow last night I was wondering what sort of day I would wake up to this morning. Opening the curtains at 7am, I was surprised to see a fine, sunny morning with very little wind. At the back of our house, the Rock Doves were lined up waiting for some food - I'm still feeding the birds with seed but only get the aforementioned plus a few Sparrows and Starlings. Just before we left the island last Wednesday, I had a brief view of a small bunting as it flew off from the seed. I'm certain it wasn't a Reed' as it didn't seem to have enough white showing in the tail. My 'gut' feeling is possibly a Little' but unfortunately I'll never know, but it would be nice if it did briefly come back.

Catriona was coming back on the overnight ferry from Aberdeen, so I was heading down to Lerwick to pick her up once I'd done the school run. In Uyeasound at the south of the island, I saw a Pale Bellied Brent Goose feeding on the shore and wondered if it was one of the ones that I saw yesterday in Baltasound as it they had now moved on.

Returning back home this afternoon, I took a drive along one of the foreshore roads and a number of Hooded Crows caught my eye on an old stone pier. I reckon there were at least a dozen or more and several Great Black-backed Gulls. It soon became obvious why they were there - an Otter had caught a rather large fish and was feeding. A gull flew in and took quite a large piece of fish and this bird was followed by half a dozen hoodies, the remainder staying by the Otter. I've seen it several times where several crows will taunt a feeding Otter by pecking at its rear end in the hope it will distract the animal and then one of the other birds will dart in an steal the food. The picture below is one occasion from last winter.

These below are from today and in better light.

Once the feeding had finished, it re-entered the water and carried on fishing, catching several small fish in the process. It was then joined by another otter and headed in my direction to where I was parked in my car. Fortunately the wind was in my favour but it still knew something was there. Most of my otter encounters are lucky 'chance' encounters as I don't have the time to spend hour after hour waiting patiently - but saying that, I do have quite a lot of 'chance encounters' !

'I know you're there, but I can't see you'


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