Eye to eye with the predator; Bespoke Photography 21/10/2013

by on Oct.31, 2013, under Druridge Bay, Northumberland, Northumberland Coast, Photography, Southeast Northumberland

The chilly morning air was biting as I arrived in Seahouses to collect Peter, Caroline and Aidan.  With camera gear loaded into the back of the car we headed down the Northumberland coast with two species in particular on our target list for the day – one relatively easy, one slightly less so…

I’d planned the morning to take in a couple of sites for Red Squirrel, and the early afternoon to stake out a regular Otter spot.  So, Red Squirrel is the relatively easy species out of those two…but the first rule of wildlife photography should be ‘wildlife doesn’t perform to order’ and both sites we visited, which have healthy populations of Red Squirrel, didn’t produce any sightings.  That’s often the case though when it’s damp, cool and breezy, so we headed on in search of our second target for the day.  After a brief stake out of a handsome male Stonechat we made our way to the edge of a pond, and were told by another birdwatcher who was there that he’d seen an Otter just 15mins earlier, and it had headed across the pond.  I looked across in the direction he thought it had gone…and the entire bank was lined with ducks and geese.  A good sign; the Otter had obviously spooked them out of the water but it must be still somewhere in the pond, as all of the birds were staring intently.  I couldn’t see any disturbance in the water in that direction though and I was just remarking that I thought the Otter could still be nearby, when it surfaced in front of us 🙂  For the next couple of hours we were treated to regular feeding sorties as the sinuous mustelid caught fish after fish, including at least one large FlounderCormorants and Grey Herons were fishing too, a Water Rail put in a couple of typically fleeting appearances, Common Snipe were prodding, probing and miraculously vanishing in short vegetation, Lapwing, Curlew and Redshank were roosting, calling and occasionally flushing, Mallard and Teal kept standing to attention every time the Otter was close by, a murmuration of Starlings away to the north disbanded into smaller flocks that flew straight over our heads and seven Little Gulls danced their dainty flight back and forth over the pond.  Perhaps the moment of the day though, was when the Otter appeared around the edge of a reedbed and started straight into Aidan’s camera lens.  The second rule of wildlife photography should be ‘…and sometimes it does’ 🙂

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2 Comments for this entry

  • David French

    Mr Kitchen my partner and I follow all your blogs with great interest.especially anything to do with otters.Your last blog about Aiden and your other party members getting some great shots of the otter as it swam right into Aidens lens.Would it be possible for you to ask Aiden to send us copies of
    the photos they took on your last otter safari. You see sir we have been trying for over 18 months on almost every river and waterway in Northumberland.at all different times of the day and nite, and we have been unsuccessful on every occasion, you seem to have a great knack in spotting the otter on all of your tours which I find very hard to understand. Regards David and Christie

  • martin

    Dear David and Christie

    There’s no denying that Otters can be tricky to find, and there are examples in our blog posts of trips where we looked for but didn’t find them. An example of how difficult they can be was provided earlier this year when some of our clients enjoyed their first sighting of an Otter in the wild, with us, having previously failed to see them during trips with local guides on both Mull and Shetland. Our high success rate is due to a combination of factors; as professional wildlife guides we have an extensive network of contacts throughout Northumberland who keep us up to date with locations/times/behaviours of any Otters they encounter, we spend our free time checking existing Otter sites (and other locations where we suspect they may be active) and with the experience we’ve developed over several years of regular observation of Otters it’s less likely that they’ll evade detection if they are present when we’re there. So far we’ve watched Otters at seven locations in Northumberland on trips with clients, at a further seven locations we’ve seen them when we haven’t had clients out with us and we’ve got another three or four locations that we’ll be checking thoroughly over the winter. Anyone who would like to search for Otters in the wild can sign up for one of our trips; we can’t guarantee success, but our clients all know how much work goes into maximising their chances 🙂

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