Monday, 4 February 2013

Lunchtime Otter - 16th Jan

With nothing much showing on the smaller lake, I headed straight around to the bigger lake on my lunchtime jaunt, a nice bright crisp day, a change from the weather we'd have in previous weeks.

Having seen the local Otters on various occasions now I've come a little accustomed to the signs they are out and about, Having before Christmas spent a good 10 minutes watching some Black-headed Gulls circling above the waters edge not realising that an Otter was surfacing below them. I've come to realise that this is often a tell tale sign that there is some activity.

Having this theory proven in recent weeks and today was no exception, I spotted a couple of gulls bombing something at the top end of the lake and about 5 seconds later a head surfaced. Bingo!

Careful not to disturb, I headed quickly and decisively along and down into one of the fishermans pontoons, much better down at waters level as the main path is raised about 4 foot from the waters edge. I sat myself down at the edge of the lake, back to a thick clump of bramble cast in shade from the sun behind my back. Rubbing my hands together as what looked like the female adult Otter started to hunt in my direction.

There I was happily snapping a few frames off when from behind me comes some guy with a camera running down the path. I had already seen this guy earlier in the car park and made polite conversation and got the impression that he thought he knew what he was doing, I'd hoped he was off in the opposite direction but turned out he had followed my circuit and now was stood above me as bold as brass with nothing to hide his silouette.

"She isn't bothered by us is she.....I think I'll get a little closer!" was what came from his mouth. I replied in a rather pissed off manner "If you feel you have to, only move when she is under water and make sure you keep low to the ground!" He did seem to register this for about 2 minutes before he was frantically following her up and down the lakeside everytime she moved like a headless chicken.

It's fair to say by this point I was rather irate, firstly at the total lack of respect this guy was showing a wild animal, one especially as illusive as an Otter fishing in broad daylight and secondly at the lack of common courtesy he was showing me! Turns out she wasn't particularly enjoying his flapping at the edge of the water and swam off up the lake ending my hope of any more shots. One word came to mind: KNOBHEAD!!! Well maybe a few more with some expletives at the front, but this is a family blog right!

Female Otter

Having a Shake off

It made me question it a little bit, as much as I want to share the wonders of wildlife with other people, it made me wonder if in some instances it should be kept quiet, a few of us have spent the past year or so gaining the Otters trust, several other Photographers having spent a lot more time than me at the lakes learning feeding patterns and best times conditions etc, for it all maybe to be ruined by an influx of people who just turn up and expect them to perform on cue.

Maybe I am just a little bitter, but I feel that there has to be a reason we have such a healthy population of Otters, (7 were seen together since this visit) that other habitats in the area must be so unsuitable that they are all living here together. Which in my opinion is a very delicate situation and perhaps should be managed by someone with a little more knowledge than the local councils Environmental department.

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