Sighting: Otter

The otter has always been one of my favourite creatures, but being such an elusive animals and still relatively rare here in the UK, I never expected to see one in the wild. That was until reports began to surface on local wildlife groups of a new resident on the nearby waterways. As more and more sightings and photos appeared on social media, I simply had to go and check this out for myself!

Just a mile up the road at Tanybwlch, overlooking the harbour mouth is a small stretch of rocky beach which seemed to be the best place to attempt catch of glimpse of the otter. Unfortunately after several visits and many hours of watching and waiting in the cold and wind with not even a single sighting I was starting to feel like I was the only person who hadn’t seen the otter!

Tanybwlch at high tide. Prime otter territory!

Fortunately persistence and patience will almost always pay off and on my fourth day of ‘otterwatch’ I finally got lucky. The otter, thought to be a male had been seen on and off all morning, hunting for fish and crabs beneath the wooden jetty just across the river mouth and so it was only a matter of time before he left the water. I just hoped to be in the right place when he did…

Just as I was once again ready to call it a day and head home, a sudden movement in the corner of my eye caught my attention. A dark shape was visible in the water, moving rapidly against the flow of the tide, it could only be the otter!

He emerged from the water’s edge silently, before elegantly striding his way up the sloping beach right towards me, a freshly caught crab clamped within his large canine teeth. I was immediately struck by the size of him, for he was much larger than I had imagined, perhaps some half a meter from nose to tail tip.

The otter headed for the nearby bank of rosehips to consume his crab supper in peace and as he did so he had clearly spotted me, turning to glance at me curiously as he passed by. As our eyes met for a brief moment I was so awestruck I could hardly focus the camera. Fortunately I was able to compose myself just long enough to capture this portrait. Not a great shot by any means, but a tick off the bucket list!

As soon as he had appeared, the otter was gone, melting away into the undergrowth. The entire encounter lasted just a few seconds, but it was one which will stay with me for a lifetime!

Until we meet again…

All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography © 2020

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