Sunday 14 November 2021

Three encounters with otters

My first close encounter with an Ardnamurchan otter was twelve years ago in my workshop. I was using an angle grinder and listening to Radio 2 when a young otter appeared at the door,  I switched everything off. ...... It sniffed the air and sauntered in, right up to the freezer sniffed around and then left and ambled down to the sea. It was young, hungry and naive. Then most recently I was walking home from the village shop at mid-day and the biggest dog otter I have ever seen crossed the road twenty metres in front of me.

On Friday my neighbour Hamza turned up at lunchtime with a dead otter he'd found on the shore, it was

young, scarred by wounds and terribly  emaciated. It had only recently left the protection of it's mother and family to look for territory of it's own and had met up with an adult like the big one I had seen on the road.

Otters  are constantly on the look out for food and on the move within their territory, where they have fresh water bathing pools and resting places.  Fiercely territorial, they have a well beaten path along the shore above the tide line marked with spraint to warn off any competition. A brief examination on the kitchen table showed this one to be battered, scarred and very thin; lack of food and infected wounds had probably killed it. Now it's in Hamza's garage freezer waiting to be sent off to Cardiff University for a thorough autopsy.