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Posted on Oct 27, 2013 in Blog, Otters | 0 comments

Asturian Rivers: In search of wild otters

Asturian Rivers: In search of wild otters

Two young otters fighting over a trout. We started out just after sunrise and were lucky to spot a family of 4 otters after just 10 minutes. We watched them for over 2 hours, hunting, resting and playing.  One of the best encounters with a family group in the past 6 years. We lost them several times as they disappeared into the vegetation of the riverbank, so we decided to walk ahead and wait. As predicted (or hoped for), all 4 otters made their way up river and 2 eventually appeared just 15-20 metres away – chasing fish through small rapids and turning over rocks in the shallows in search of food. I’ve been hoping to capture an otter holding a trout for sometime. I didn’t imagine taking a photo with not one but two otters, and so close. – John Three young otters looking back to their mother calling from the riverbank. Two young otters navigating a dark corner of the river All Rights Reserved – © John...

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Posted on Oct 18, 2013 in Blog, Otters | 1 comment

City Otters – Gijón, Asturias

City Otters – Gijón, Asturias

We search for wild places in the hope of glimpsing wild creatures that live there. For the first time we took a few days holiday – to a city, with lots of people, buildings and traffic.  And more surprisingly we went to the city to watch otters. In Gijón, Asturias, the otters have passed the limits of the river and entered an inner city park with small lakes – home to ducks, geese and other exotic waterfowl.  Their arrival has caused some conflict with the parks avian inhabitants although we personally only witnessed them hunting for eels and american crayfish.  For a detailed post, visit the excellent blog from David Alvarez – Naturaleza Cantabrica- “¿Cuantas nutrias hay en el Parque de Xixón?” (in Spanish). We managed to watch 2 different otters over 4 mornings, at close quarters but with poor light.  Encountering them in the near dark, for one photo below, and without much expectation, I set the camera to ISO6400 and somehow got lucky with the focusing. Also equally...

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Posted on Sep 9, 2013 in Blog, Otters | 6 comments

Otter: Early evening hunting

Otter: Early evening hunting

The summer months have proved a frustrating time for watching otters.  The river is busy and although we’ve tried several quieter areas, it’s been unsuccessful – no sightings, no tracks, no spraint. However, we’ve been active lately with fantastic mammal observations – including wolves, deer and wild cats. But September is upon us again and time to swap last weeks high mountain excursions and return the river with new places and renewed enthusiasm for watching the otters. This week we explored a new section of our usual river, a short drive from home.  As we walked a 2 kilometre stretch of the river, it dawned upon us this was potentially a great area to watch otters. Quiet but accessible with a low level path, we were excited but kicking ourselves for not discovering it before. And just 5 minutes after settling on the riverbank – an otter appeared. Large and clambering over the rocks, it appeared to be covering every inch of the small pools that were adjacent to...

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Posted on Apr 14, 2013 in Blog, Otters | 2 comments

An evening watching an otter family in Asturias

An evening watching an otter family in Asturias

With an increase in otter activity during the past few weeks, we concentrated our efforts looking for them along the Río Sella and Río Piloña in Asturias. We spent over 25 hours this week walking, watching and waiting. Last night we decided to look further a field and discovered a potentially excellent otter site, just 5 minutes drive away. We found tracks and spraint. The location was open with good views across the river but also with well hidden vantage points and not close any houses or footpaths.  Human traffic at a minimum.  We left happy and optimistic. Whilst driving home we opted ‘for one last look’ at our usually otter hotspot. It was a good decision. Although getting there late and the light fading we soon spotted one, two, three and finally four otters.  A family – mother and three young cubs swimming, playing and fishing. We watched for over an hour, during which time the mother struggled alone to subdue a lamprey. The cubs played and one...

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Posted on Apr 14, 2013 in Blog, Otters | 0 comments

Tracking the elusive otter in Asturias

Tracking the elusive otter in Asturias

Signs and tracks are our best indication of the wildlife that lives around us, especially those such as the otter that tend to be active at night and even during the day are a challenge to watch for long periods.  The search for evidence of otters during our riverside walks ranges from a distraction to a full-on obsession.  Lately,  we’ve seen a lot of signs and also heard of several daytime sightings by locals.  Optimistic! Here are a few photos from our tracking over the past few weeks. Fresh tracks overnight along the Río Piloña. We monitor this particular area almost daily. In the same area. We looked again that evening and the otter had visited once more, walking in my footsteps from 8 hours earlier. Tracks in the sand leading from the water’s edge to the rock pictured below.  Río Sella. Otter spraint on a rock.  Río Sella. On many occasions we’ve noticed that the otters prefer to ‘spraint’ upon rocks, the height advantage improving the carrying of their scent...

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Posted on Jan 15, 2013 in Blog, Otters | 2 comments

Young Otter

Young Otter

The topic of conversation during most morning walks is “I wonder when we will see the otters again?”.  It has been months since we very briefly spotted 2 otters swimming in the river.  Today, it all to changed! We spotted a tail flicking out of the water in a corner of the river occupied by a heron and little egret.  It looked small, very small but this young otter seemed apt at fishing and swimming.  It moved quickly and ate at least 7 or 8 fish/eels while we watched. After an hour, I walked ahead and hid in a well camouflaged position on the riverbank.  I waited and hoped the otter would pass by and it did ….  I did my best to conceal myself behind a willow tree, this was fine even though at times I was hindered by many shoots sprouting from the trunk which blocked my view.  The young otter fished, rested and fished again giving me some nice shots. Then having caught a trout it decided to devour...

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