Friday, 19 October 2012

Otter surprise!!!

Mid-October, a mix of rain and shine and decent afternoon temperatures means the dragons are still showing well. The only site visited locally remains Far Pasture and am having some excellent sorties there.
Last Sunday took a couple of the little 'uns down. Initially caught in a downpour we sheltered under a tree along the Derwent Walk which we quickly found to be a minefield of dogturds, never seen so many in a small space, when the rain subsided managed to negotiate the sprogs safely out of it but came a cropper myself, now I've nowt against dogs per se but bloody ignorant dogowners are the scourge of the countryside (rant over).
By the time we got to Far Pasture the sun was out nice and the bird ringers were in the car park, kind enough to show us some birds as they released them back into the wild, a lovely little goldcrest (male as shown by his orange crest) a fiesty blue tit (as shown by the peck marks in the ringers fingers,) and a crackin' little treecreeper, you just don't appreciate how tiny and delicate these birds are 'til you see them up close like this, cheers to the ringing crew, much appreciated.
Anyway to the pond and nice to see a few pairs of common darter ovipositing and a male migrant hawker on patrol, then on the way home sprog2 pointed out a grey squirrel on the road ahead and I just glimpsed a fox as it turned tail and disappeared into the woods. A canny mornings entertainment.

Next visit wasn't until Thursday and what a treat this turned out to be. Whizzing through the dragon sightings, several pairs of common darter ovipositing still, a male migrant hawker on patrol and a female southern hawker briefly.
But the session was taken up by the increasingly regular otters, a mother and cub, my third sighting in as many weeks and this one by far the best as they stayed on site for well over an hour, enthralling me and a few others lucky enough to be present with their playing and fishing antics.
A great thrill to see these superb creatures at close quarters, seemingly without a care in the world as they go about their business, top predator on the pond and scaring the life out of the assembled wildfowl without actually bothering any of them. What they were feeding on remains a mystery but they fed regularly on small prey, and for once I was able to photograph them as they came much closer than on my previous sightings.

Otter eating unknown prey
And then there were two
I showed Sprog1 these photos and asked him if he knew what they were. . .
. . . . he said . . ."dolphins"

. . . .and then he said . . "hippopotamus"

. . . . "shark"

and finally . . . "monkey"
He has a lot to learn about british Wildlife.

And at one point, when the sun was at its brightest, a Noctule bat came hunting over the pond, another first for me and a cracking view as it took out the early afternoon insects ,hunting for a good few minutes and for a while even the otters took a back seat at this surreal little cameo.

The noctule at Far Pasture
(pic. by Roly Ingram)

 Unfortunately for me I was on school pick-up duty so had to tear myself away with the otters still on site. A quick visit to the secret pond and a male southern hawker was the only dragon on view today, but what a superb session, sometimes just checking on the dragons brings brilliant good fortune !  

Update : One of the other lucky wildlife-watchers present informed me later that the otters were still showing well at 4.30pm when he had to leave, some two hours after I'd departed, what a show !        

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