Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sadly, otters don't always make it...

I was telephoned a couple of weeks ago by professional angler Leon, who,during a fishing trip on the west side of Shetland, had come across otters behaving rather oddly. It was his opinion that the otter population had boomed, and so these secretive and shy creatures were much more in evidence than normal. But to see one brazenly carrying a dead rabbit back to the sea was, to say the least, unusual.

We see otters quite regularly - we live on the shore and a gigantic dog otter is frequently to be spotted patrolling the sea wall. I have never seen an otter at the Mavis Grind - site of the famous 'beware otters crossing' sign. But occasionally, you will glimpse one by the side of the road, or dashing in front of the car. Bizarrely, I was showing Radio Two DJ Mark Radcliffe the cliffs at Eshaness when bold as brass, one popped up behind the lighthouse to have a look at us.

Today, taking Magnus to the airport, I came across a freshly-killed otter at the top of the Clavie, the hill climbing past Urafirth out of Hillswick. Then, on the way back, north of Orbister in Northmavine, another big otter ran (safely)in front of the car on the way from sea to loch. Most unusual.

We had an inquiry this week from a prospective renter of our holiday cottage in Heylor, and, in the week that Simon King's book about his sojourn in Shetland comes out, they were excitedly asking about wildlife. 'Any otters?' Yes. A lot. Just be careful you don't have a closer encounter with one than you may have wished.

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