Thursday, 27 September 2012

A little otter than yesterday

Late September and there's been some rotten weather to contend with lately, we got off lightly hereabouts considering the flooding nationwide. But the latest two days of constant rain did flood the river for a time, as these photos from yesterday show.

The river Derwent in flood

Torrent at the damhead
usually no more than a trickle of water down the slope
A Grey Heron tries a spot of fishing away from the rapids 

A quick visit to Far Pasture also showed an abrupt rise in water level on the ponds, but the break in the rain had brought out maybe 15 pairs of common darters in a frenzy of ovipositing, and a single ruddy darter was also seen at the usual roadside spot.

Today I chanced another visit to Far Pasture, encouraged by a much brighter late morning. On arrival I found the water had subsided back to normal levels overnight and there were even more common darters out than yesterday, at least 20 pairs, a good count for this late in the season. A southern hawker (male) was seen too before the showers crept in and sent them all into cover.

But the atmosphere on the pond changed as the fifteen or so loafing mallards on a mudflat island towards the back of the pond suddenly became alert to something over in  the far corner, obviously some sort of threat as two little grebes flung themselves away from the direction of their gaze and scampered up onto the island with them, unusual to see these little fluffballs out of the water.
Then slight panic as the object of their waryness came into view, but fantastic for me! Two otters (presume mother and cub) swimming from right to left at the back of the pond. The ducks ushered themselves to the furthest point away on the island, muttering quietly to themselves but not taking their eyes off the otters as the two animals glided past the island and into the reeds, sending a couple of moorhen scattering as they did.

The mallards look on nervously just before the otters swim past
behind the island (note the little grebe front right)

Great to see, my first sighting since back in 2007, though they have been logged here quite often recently. And unfortunately, as otter sightings go it wasn't the best, as that was the last I saw of them, but still a thrill.
I did think my luck was in though, when around ten minutes later I noticed thick vegetation moving as something large trailed through it, and was surprised when a young red fox peered out of the reeds at me. Disappointed it wasn't the otters but I still enjoyed the fox as it was only the second I've seen this year I think, and at least I had better views as it was quite close to the hide and moved slowly around to the left where I lost it in the thicker reedbed, but was difficult to photograph as it was constantly on the move.

And this was the best pic I could get of the fox,
but a treat to see all the same.

Not much else happened after that as the showers got heavier, I eventually left during a break in the rain and had a brief sighting of another hawker along the road. Can't be positive of the ID but did get the impression of a turquoise hue as it sped past me, a trait indicative of a common hawker in such situations, and unlucky for me as it zipped over the bushes and onto the pond which I'd just left!

So the dragonhunting season is all but over now. I can only hope for an Indian summer like last year but truthfully can't see the weather improving much, though if chance arises the only targets I will be looking for are females of black darter and migrant hawker, I haven't got decent photographs of either yet so fingers crossed !!   

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