Alexander Averin

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Nature news

Otter Swimming

Dear Diary,

I had a wonderful experience yesterday evening, one you get not too many times in a lifetime - I saw an otter close up in our river in the daylight.  I had been out picking a few daffodils for the parlour and was pruning a few wee bits and pieces as  I made my way back indoors.  I decided to throw the very tiny clippings into the river and as I did so, on the opposite bank I spied an otter ducking and diving.   I stood still and watched it swim upstream and out of sight.  I flew excitedly indoors to tell M and as we looked out of the window a heron landed in the very same spot in the river where the otter had been.  The heron is here a lot, he is the most patient and stealthy bird as he makes his way upstream on the lookout for fish.  Every year a parent heron will bring a young one to the river, obviously teaching it how to catch fish.

I have seen otters before in the moonlight, I hear them regularly on my nightly walks and there is always otter spraint on our banks. I blogged about otters many times but I have never seen one up close in the daylight before though I have seen mink and polecats.  M has glimpsed otters in the early evening diving near our little bridge, he was struck by how huge they are, especially the dogs (males).

Tonight I decided to sit by the river and stage an otter- watch.  I have just been out at the same time as I saw the otter yesterday which was 7.30 pm.  I sat by the river partially hidden by a laurel bush but with a clear view of the river.

We have a dippers’ nest just upstream under the road bridge and  I had a very clear view of that, there is much activity there -  I believe there may be young ones in the wooden nest box.  Dippers  have nested here for generations, I  have read about them in a book written by someone who grew up here.  We are very lucky to be able to watch them in such close proximity, they are used to us and even tolerate the dogs being near them on the river ‘beach’.

I sat by the river for quite a while, all was quiet apart from the dippers flying downstream to fish and then returning to the nest, the occasional car passing by and various birds singing in the trees.  I decided to go out later when dusk is starting to descend. 

As soon as I came indoors I looked out of the cottage window and saw an unusually large bird, but not as big as a buzzard on  the little bridge so I got my binoculars out to see what it was. I think it was a kestrel and as I called M to show him, it swooped down onto the surface of the river in an attempt to catch something - obviously one of my beloved dippers.  Luckily he missed -  I hope that the dipper dove down deep into the river.  This  kestrel must have seen me go into the cottage before deciding to swoop on his prey!

So it is all happening here on the wildlife stage.  I often think that I would love to set up an infra-red night camera but they are quite expensive.

I will report back as soon as there is more news on the nature front.

Bye for now,



e said...

Dear Cait,

Your love of nature is obvious, and your part of the world sounds beautiful. It is always a pleasure to meet another librarian. Best to you.

Nora said...

You must live in a very beautiful bit of nature to be able to see all those things. How I envy you, but how wonderful for you who appreciates it so much. Thanks for sharing this. It was quite exciting.

Vee said...

You certainly enjoy a wonderful corner of this earth. It sounds like a little piece of heaven. Of course, you are talented enough to make it seem so, but I think that you are describing it just as you see it.

ds said...

Otters, herons, dippers (which I do not know), kestrels: what a lovely picture you paint. Thank you.

Mark said...

Fantastic news. I have never seen an otter in Wales, though I have looked for years. A chap captured one his camera literally minutes before I walked past him at Bosherston last summer, and I have sen paw prints on many rivers. Minks I see occasionally, especially on the Usk, but never otters. Still, I'll keep on looking; one day.

Kath said...

How exciting! I'm told there are otters on a nature reserve not far from here, I would love to see them.
SOunds like you live in an idyllic place.

Toni aka irishlas said...

Nature rewards us with glimpses of all her critters and beauty if we're patient and/or lucky enough.

We do not have any rivers or creeks near us, but, we do have ponds and the herons come to feed. They will even come to our "ornamental" fish pond to feed.

The Native Americans believe if you spot a heron that it is coming to carry someone's soul away.

Thanks for sharing your nature observations with us.

Pondside said...

I love the thought of your otters and herons perhaps being related to the ones at Pondside.
What a treat it is to spot one of these creatures in the half-light - magical.

Fire Byrd said...

Lucky you to see an otter.The only ones I've seen were on Springwatch!
Saw a dipper last week for the first time when I was in a bird hide for a couple of hours.
And as for the heron's I do love them and always feel better if I see one on a walk ( me that is not the heron!!!)

Fennie said...

Lovely post Cait, full of the joys of watching nature go through the rather harsh job of finding lunch. How much better to be a cow and have lunch there ready beneath your feet and not have to stand for hours at a time up to your knees in cold water. And even then you blink, or sneeze and miss the only fish that's come this way in the week. We don't know how lucky we are. On the other hand, do you think cows ever get bored? Not grass again.......!

CAMILLA said...

Oh how wonderful Cait, I so love the Otters. Sounds really beautiful where you live. I have never seen an Otter apart from seeing them with Simon King on Spring Watch.