Saturday 12 September 2015

otter in the night

I'm sceptical when people claim to have seen otters on the canal. Oh yes, I think, but don't necessarily say, you saw a mink and would like it to have been an otter. Because otters are Nice, and mink are Nasty.

Still, one of the neighbours (neighbours in the canal sense can be sometimes next door and sometimes  several counties away. This is how canal society works).... one of the neighbours, I say, was insistent that a nearby culvert is a fine place for sitting out at dusk and watching the otters cavorting. Better than Strictly, it is, apparently.

I took myself down there, leaving my bike at a distance and walking feather-footed along the last few hundred yards of towpath.

It was a little early in the evening for otters to be cavorting, evidently. The silence was broken only by the choir practice of a local tawny owl clan. And a thousand rooks and jackdaws.

Down the wooden steps to the culvert, was a little platform for the canal people to stand on while inspecting things. And on the little platform was some poo.

If otters were around, this might well be the sort of place for them to leave their spraint. So I descended. It looked superficially a bit like small dog poo, but poking it with a stick (as you do) revealed fish bones.

Very ottery.

That night I was awoken by splashing and thumping against the hull. I took my Very Bright Torch and popped out of the after hatch. SOMETHING was swimming along the opposite bank by now. Two very bright eyes reflected my torchlight back to me. It dived and reappeared some distance away, then dived again...

Cycling to town the next day, a short distance from the boat I found this signal crayfish, intact save for the fleshy tail that had been scooped off and presumably eaten.

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