James Lowen 


23 March 2019  Water Ermine

On Thursday, I had some #MyMothYear stuff to do in the Brecks. Having finished work earlier than expected, I took the opportunity to visit a riverine site. I was greeted by an abundance of vocalising finches - singing Siskins, Redpolls, Brambling and (surprisingly) a Hawfinch. My first serenading Zilpzalps of spring added to the chorus; so too Marsh Tits and Nuthatches. Then along the river, disturbing Water Rail en route, and watching a male Mandarin wing round calling (as if in display flight). But it was mammals I was after. Otters have been performing well here recently, so were my principal quest. And boy did they put on a show. A female and well-grown cub (I think, given behaviour) showed constantly for 1.5 hours at point-blank range. Walkaway views (and I only left because I had to get to a moth site for dusk). It the light had been better, the images would have been amazing. As it was, this was a cherished experience. 

When home after moth-ing, I leafed through my copy of Nicola Chester'slovely book Otters in the RSPB Spotlight/Bloomsbury series (for which I have written about Badgers and Hedgehogs). Nicola is my favourite nature writer - a wondrous wordsmith who conjures natural beauty like nobody else. If you've not read her stuff, then pick up this book. It is lovely. 


Eventually it was all too much, so the young Water Ermine (for which blog title, thanks to Phil Saunders) took a nap. And I took the cue to depart. 

I took a few somewhat 'artier' images.

Moving to the far bank, mother and cub spent a lot of time exploring on the grassy slope above the river. The Mallards were rather worried - but the mustelids gave no indication of being interested.

The duo spent a prolonged period on and around a waterside tree, the cub spending much time preening. It was calling almost constantly: click here to listen.

There was plenty of in-water action, mostly within a yard of the near bank.