I must make a correction to this article – for those more erudite than me, the picture above is that of a Mink, not an Otter. Please accept my honest apologies, I will leave the headline though.
He followed me as I changed the spot from which I might hope to get a glimpse of a kingfisher or other bird or animal life at the water’s edge close to the reed beds of Marsworth reservoir. As time wore on he came ever closer, landing on my dangling boot on one occasion, and within arm’s length on the tip of the branch I rode as if on horseback (hence the dangling feet either side) when he came close he stayed for only a few seconds; fifteen or so at the most, but at other times when just beyond arm’s length he might rest for a minute or two, and every so often he would disappear for three to five minutes and return with a worm that he would pick at and shake whilst on the muddy path by which I had entered the bushes.
All the while I would divide my time looking around for signs of elusive kingfishers and other stirrings in the scene before me and what he was up to, talking re-assuringly to him to let him know he was either too close for me to get a shot of him or asking him to persuade his kingfisher friends to visit.
During one of the times when I was concentrating ahead of me, not being distracted by my robin companion, there was a little splashing only a few feet away and an otter came out of the crystal clear water and clambered onto the half-submerged fallen tree trunk I was on and looked me straight in the eye before calmly deciding I might just be a threat and he slid back into the water. I also was visited by a squirrel, three moorhens, an overflying heron that did a prompt U-turn, several pigeons, a lone young grebe, a grey wagtail, a crow, yet few stayed in sight for long.
Seeing the otter so close was the reward for my perseverance, and as I returned to the canal path I became exposed to a bitter and rising wind, with the reservoir water being churned into choppy white horses. When I had arrived earlier I had only seen two people, one an optimistic angler, the other a taciturn pessimist who took a while to respond to my “Morning” with “Not much good about it!” When I was leaving more people were around, many out with dogs or babes in buggies, and a pair of men who engaged me in conversation asking whether I had had any luck. When I mentioned the otter they immediately told me that they had been talking to that same lone angler about otters and their propensity apparently for only eating the gill areas of fishes, yet saying that he knew of none in the vicinity. They told me after they had viewed my shots I should let the angler see them as he would be really interested in the coincidence of their conversation and my sighting. I naturally did just that when caught up with him, before heading back to the car.