Forest Otter

Christmas came early this morning, a lovely sunrise and another Otter.

I was up early and on site just as it was getting light… this was a shot taken with full ISO and thus very grainy… The most likely time to see an otter is just as it is getting light or just as it is getting dark, which is the worst time for the camera.

By the way no Otter in the photo above it is just there to show what sort of picture you get immediately after sunrise.

I was scanning the far sides of the lake with my binoculars when suddenly there was a loud splash in the weedy water not 10 meters away from me. My first thoughts was maybe a large fish had surfaced.  Then the Otter popped up right in front of me and now about 50 meters out.  I desperately tried to focus but with my insulated gloves on it was all a bit of a fumble.

It dived and then reappeared further out, now I had yanked my gloves off and was better able to focus. Again it only had a quick look round and then disappeared off to the left behind some reed beds. I waited a short while but no more views so I slowly walked back along the bank and then I saw it again, now right across the lake and it moved across and then out of view.

I remained by the lake for about an hour, the sunrise produced some nice colours on the trees and reed beds but with only a telephoto lens I was limited in what I could snap away at.

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A young Swan came up close, maybe expecting me to feed it and when that did not happen it gave me a good loud hiss and then swam off. Also at the lake were a few Grey-lag Geese, two pairs of Mallards  some Coots and that was about it.

Next challenge is to get a shot of an Otter out of the water.. maybe sat on a rock in the middle of the river Wye eating a salmon….. now that really would be Christmas come early.

 

 

 

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Two wet days in Wales.

Two wet days in Wales and I made a new friend!

Having spotted an Otter on Thursday I was encouraged so spent Saturday afternoon and most of today, Sunday at the same place hoping for some better views. No luck, it did show for literally two seconds on Saturday. Just surfaced and dived, never to be seen again.

It rained most of the time so I took a couple of rainy shots.

There is not a lot of bird life at this reserve, Mallards and Teal, mostly. I did see some Little Egrets on my first visit but none this weekend. Also on that occasion a Kingfisher did a quick fly past. I did spot one Gadwall, and in the bushes behind the hide I snapped this Goldcrest, I had hoped it might be a Fire crest as its crest was quite Fiery but after cropping the photo to get a close look I could see there was no eye stripe, so it is just a Goldcrest….still nice though.

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There are quite a few Little Grebes and they are quite photogenic so I took a few shots of them when they came close to the hide.

I also had the company of a Rat, not shy at all. Despite being a rat he/she also looked a bit ratty as in disheveled and tatty sort of way.  I took sympathy and gave it a few bits of my lunch… Nan bread with bacon filling,   it seemed fairly happy with it and came quite close, about a foot away at which point I did shuffle my feet noisily to warn it off.  It was all said and done a rat.

Ring of Bright Water

After many many hours at various locations along the river Wye, in the forest of Dean and in darkest Wales, I was finally rewarded with about 60 seconds of Otter just before it got dark.  I am not complaining, it was absolutely magical.

I have seen Otters several times in the past but this was the first time since moving to Gloucestershire. This otter is a Welsh otter…. nothing wrong with that.

I got the tip off that it might be about when suddenly all the ducks that were settling in the reed beds for the night took off.

The otter then appeared on the far side of the lake where I was sat, freezing my nuts off in a sort of open hide… if that makes any sense. It had two sides and was open on the sides away from the lake, some of you will know where I was from that description.  I had to use ISO 16,000 as it was so dark and I was using a 400 mm zoom lens. Thus the photo quality is not 100%.

Most of the time it was swimming underwater and only surfaced a couple of times. It did do a nice dive and this produced the ‘ring of bright water as in the book title.

 

 

Argiope bruennichi

Argiope spiders

Argiope is a genus of spiders which include some impressive beasts. The one photographed most is Argiope bruennichi commonly called a Wasp Spider for obvious reasons.Argiope bruennichi

 

I also came across this one in Southern Spain called Argiope lobata, not as colourful but quite big and with peculiar white bumps on its back. Also if you look closely it has a long tubular shaped head which is quite odd for a spider.Argiope lobata

The pomegranate (Punica granatum)

Ripe and ready.

Possibly the origin of why Australians refer to Brits as Poms… the colour our skin goes after a bit of sun.

 

Other explanation is Prisoner of Mother England, as we all know Australians are all descended from the ‘ne’er do wells’ of the past..

Also may be a bit of cockney rhyming slang  as the way Australians pronounce Pomegranate sounds a bit like immigrant…. so I have been told.

Beat them in the rugby though…..

 

More birds along the Rio Guadalquivir

Apart from a Purple Gallinule which I was delighted to see, there was lots of other interesting stuff.

This is a marshland area, but its salt marsh as the river is tidal, big ships come up all the way to Seville.

There are tidal lagoons, this one had lots of Black-winged Stilts and a few Spoonbills. There is a bird hide but I was not sure how to get to it…swim maybe.

Plenty of small brown jobs, commonest ones were Crested Larks, Fan-tailed Warblers, Stonechats, Cetti’s warblers and Chiffchafs…. always Chiffchafs.

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Not bad for raptors, I saw 4 species which were Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. I am never sure if it is a Kestrel or Lesser Kestrel, both are found in this area.

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An interesting little bird is the Waxbill, a pair turned up whilst I was waiting for a good view of the Purple Gallinule…. you have seen my Purple Gallinule haven’t you?  I am sure you would like to!

Also a rabbit made an appearance.

And there were several Moorish Geckos on an old building enjoying the sun…  Moorish like chocolate truffles or Turkish Delight?…. no North African.

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