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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 18, 2013 in Blog, Places | 0 comments

Asturian Seascape: Castro de las Gaviotas

Asturian Seascape: Castro de las Gaviotas

07.25am – Day 3 Last weekend we began a new longer term project – that should see us through until the end of the year.  We started at the islet of ‘Castro de las GaviotasCastro de las Gaviotas’ near Hontoria. The first morning was somewhat disappointing – a thick band of cloud on the horizon blocked out the sun until well beyond official sunrise. But it was a good experience and gave us chance to become familiar with the area in the dawn light.  We also saw a flock of 12 Egrets flying above ours heads at 7am, which was a first! Normally we make excursions on the spur of the moment, a quick check of the weather forecast, map ready and off we go.  Here planning is the key – deciding on your positioning during a daytime visit can reduce stress when arriving in the dark.  Clambering over rocks on cliff edges in the dark with the light changing fast isn’t an ideal scenario. Obviously, it’s difficult to...

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Posted on Sep 14, 2013 in Birds, Blog | 2 comments

Riverside: Young Swallows

Riverside: Young Swallows

As we walked towards the section of the river for observing the otters, we got distracted. A couple of swallow chicks were perched close by on the riverbank. Normally, they fly off as soon as you approach, but these two held steady. Both parents were busy flying sorties over the river surface, catching insects to bring back for their young. I was lucky with the light, the last beam sun shone through on to the branch perfectly, illuminating the birds and darkening the background. It became fairly easy to predict when an adult was about to return – as the motionless young suddenly and frantically begging with wide gaping mouths a few seconds before their arrival. The speed in which the adult entered was impressive and difficult to capture – handheld, low light, no use of flash. Only during processing this images did I realise just how precisely they place the food in the young’s mouth. – John All Rights Reserved – © John Shackleton – Wild Asturias Share...

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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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