Saturday, May 21, 2011

In Otter news

I’ll be honest, of the 55 or so species (you better be right Wikipedia!) of mammal in Ireland I have seen maybe ten and only managed to photograph a couple. Here in the city, as you might imagine, we are a little short on creatures such as Sika deer and Pine marten so finding these species on my limited time and transport is near impossible (bring on the Summer). 

 Go a little more coastal or rural though and you have a significant chance of finding Otters. These large Mustelids are one of the least hated animals in Ireland at the moment, their playful and inquisitive nature endear most of the people that they share ground with and aside from that they feed primarily in fish, a habit that keeps them generally out of human conflict. Heck maybe it’s just the fact that they are rather entertaining! Just look at the video below (not mine, random vid, hope they don’t mind the embed).

To find otters, estuarine areas are probably easiest. My preferred area is Clonakilty bay where I have spent extensive time exploring and encountered otters nine times. Not bad considering I wasn’t looking for or expecting to find them. Otters live inland too but apparently are shyer, I think maybe this has something to do with coastal otters being well used to flocks of large and aggressive gulls circling and mobbing them for fish. Once you’ve had a great black backed gull (wingspan 1.7m) lunge at you you’re probably not going to be afraid of a long haired dude with a camera.

Here in Ireland we are quite lucky because we apparently have one of the highest concentrations of common otter anywhere in Europe, a pretty awesome statistic if you consider that we usually have the lowest concentration of or completest lack of most European species! 

Early mornings are the best time to find otters, they like the peace and quiet of not having too many people around I guess! The mentioned gull mobbing are also a handy way of finding them since these large birds circle the poor otter and can be seen from quite a distance, a gang of gulls is always worth investigating. The oddest thing about these guys seems to be that once you do spot them they usually start watching you right back instead of running off. This mother and littleuns is the perfect example. She was unaware of my presence at first, but after she noticed me she just watched me for about five minutes before strolling off. An encounter that made my day!

I am not sure if we have otters here in the city but I am guessing that the answer is yes, the area of waterlogged fields and ponds across from the Lee river fields seems ideal; if it’s quiet enough to have kingfishers then I am sure otters exist too. Further research to come!

In other news! Nothing new in the past few days but I did get some interesting shots of the ‘everyday’ birds.
Also, added a page for the UCC bird list (Here) or on the Sub-page toolbar to the right!

My favorite Pied wagtail shot to date!

Some experimental closeups of the Grey heron. Monsters of the water, I actually saw one eat a baby duck yesterday

Mute swan.

Greenfinch, my best shot to date but I'm still not happy with it!

A hooded crow at UCC, looking a bit grumpy!

A Dunnock (?) I think its a dunnock but it looks odd somehow, I'm guessing its newly fledged!


  1. Amazing blog, very enjoyable :)

  2. You've got a river going through UCC?! Wish I'd known that before asking you to join in. Great shots of the otters and Hooded Crow looking back at you.

  3. Thanks! doesnt ucd have a big pond? id say that beats our meazly 20 meters of river :D

  4. If you don't mind, ucd has a 'Lake'. Unfortunately it doesn't throw up anything interesting except for the same 5 species everyday, despite daily scans. Anyway, I'm on 44 and winning.

  5. Sorry, lake, never actually been there, the water rail does intrigue me tho, never actually seen one (heard plenty). Congrats on the 44, I have my doubts that I can squeeze anymore species out of UCC so your victory is assured I think lol

  6. Well, there's the main Lake and then 2 smaller lakes in some woods - the Water Rail and Teal were there in January.


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