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otters - they are back!

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Offline John in Asturias

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« on: January 09, 2009, 14:42 PM »
I am very happy.  I reported some otter sightings in my town of Arriondas, Asturias last year.  I managed to get a video and a fuzzy still.  You can find the video on youtube here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo9bcailHp0

Today I walked along the river path and spotted a tail flicking up out of the water.  My first otter sighting since early September 2008.

I watched for 5 minutes and then decided to run back to the flat and grab the camera.  There was a lot of campaigning with the Mrs. to buy my 70-300mm VR lens, now it was going to pay for itself  :)

When I returned to the scene camera ready, no bl**dy otter.  However, after 10 minutes it re-appeared and I managed to get a few shots.  Sorry they are not crystal clear, its amazingly difficult to take photos of otters swimming, you never know where they will surface.  It one point it was directly underneath the bridge I was standing on but I still couldn't get a decent shot.

Anyway here there are # UPDATE - this is new link with extra photos #

http://www.flickr.com/photos/john_shackleton/sets/72157622787665997/

Saludos,

John

P.S.  The kingifisher was a bonus shot whilst I was searching for the otter.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2009, 14:19 PM by busybee »
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Offline Dave

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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2009, 16:54 PM »
Hi John
The photos seem pretty good to me, well done. The Kingfisher is as you say a bonus, but a really nice bonus.
Regards
Dave

Offline Tore

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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2009, 18:25 PM »
Excellent John,
Well done (I'm jealous)
regards
Tore
Tore

Offline Spanish Footsteps

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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2009, 22:35 PM »
Nice photos John.

We have some otters in the Razon River near our home, however they are very difficult to catch a glimps of. 
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2009, 07:46 AM »
The lens was well worth it in my opinion John. Patience and perseverence free though  :) And the kingfisher looks sharp! I remember trying to get a shot of the otters swimming backwards and forwards in their enclosure at Jerez zoo. Not an easy feat, even on a plate in front of me, and not helped by the time delay on the shutter release. Well done!
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Offline John in Asturias

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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2009, 20:11 PM »

Thanks for your comments guys.

Just a quick update.  We saw 3 or more otters tonight in the same place.  They were all in the river calling to each other (quite a high pitched whistle) and then gathered together on the bank.  It was dark with only street light helping our viewing but still very exciting.

I will be out tomorrow morning with the camera ready and my wife with the camcorder.  Hopefully they are still around.  They seems to be following a 7 day cycle in appearing in the Arriondas section of the Rio Sella/Rio Pilona.

Saludos,

John

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Simon

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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2009, 17:05 PM »
Hi John,

Great story, observations and pix. We've  had a 'close encounter' recently too. See the details here.

Regs

Simon

Offline John in Asturias

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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2009, 12:07 PM »

My latest otter photos on flickr.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/john_shackleton/sets/72157622787665997/

The first 6 photos are from January 2009.

The rest were taken in October 2009.  I was extremely lucky to get over an hour taking photos.

On both occasions it was a single otter.

Hope you like them.  Cheers, John.

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Offline Bob M

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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2009, 22:18 PM »
Fantastic photos. I'm really impressed.

:-)

Bob

Offline lisa

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« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2009, 17:49 PM »
Well done John!  :clapping: I reckon you saved the best 'til last. How many hours of observation must that be now I wonder? Are you still filming too?
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Offline lucy

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« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2009, 08:21 AM »
Fabulous photos.  How close do the otters allow you to go?

Offline John in Asturias

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« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2009, 09:07 AM »
Thanks for the comments.

@ Lisa.  Unfortunately not much video.  The camcorder hasn't got a very big zoom, so I tend to take DLSR.  May be Father Christmas will bring me a new Nikon D90 with HD video so I can use my zoom lens. (I can dream!  but I have been a good boy this year  :)).  We've seen otters on about 20 occasions over 2 years.  The last time in October was by far the longest sighting.  I was on my way to the swimming pool and spotted the otter almost jumping through the water like a dolphin.  There were a few locals watching, all quite excited.  After a phone call to my wife, she came running down my camera bag (the entrance to our building is only about 400 metres away).  I happily snapped away for over an hour and took 280 shots.  I still can't believe it.

@ Lucy.  For the first 6 photos we were taken standing on a footbridge and the otter swam right underneath.  They are amazingly difficult to see sometimes even when so close, you can easily lose them.  In the second batch of photos there was quite a steep riverbank separating us from the otter but I guess we were about 25 to 30 metres away most of the time.  The otter was watching us all the time and certainly aware of our presence, I think that's why I have so many shots with him looking straight at the camera.

During this hour the otter successfully hunted 4 trout and 1 what a thought was an eel but now think is a water snake.  I'm not very good on snakes, can anybody help?  This photo shows it best.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/john_shackleton/4150044394/in/set-72157622787665997/

After feeding he ran over a wide stretch of riverbank (really fast) and into a thick hedge.  Not sure if it was a holt or just a resting place.

I feel really lucky but amazed when you speak to locals that have lived here all their lives and never seen one.

Saludos,

John

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Offline lisa

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« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2009, 12:54 PM »
Ah, I hadn't realised you lived so close to the river. I think you may be right with the snake. I'd also assumed it was an eel but it does look like the underbelly of a snake.
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Offline Clive

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« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2009, 20:29 PM »
Great pictures John....... Brilliant to be able to watch the otters feeding and going about their business........ But to the snake/eel.... Have you got the original image straight from the camera?.... I an not convinced that the wriggler is a snake...

What species of snake would be in the water at that time of year? Natrix Maura has a patterened belly not a smooth white belly... I never knew otters ate snakes but it makes sense if viperine snakes are in the water as well.... Fascinating!

Grass snakes swim well.........

I reckon its an eel because of the shape towards the tail but I dont even know if you have eels in the river there...
« Last Edit: December 03, 2009, 20:32 PM by Clive »
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Offline John in Asturias

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« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2009, 08:34 AM »
I'm not sure about what snakes species are around but I've definitely heard people talk about eels, so assume they are there.

I've attached a couple of close ups from the original file.
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Offline nick

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« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2010, 14:08 PM »
What wonderful images, John!

The lack of pattern does make think of eels. Also I think you can make out the eel's fin in the bottom photo.
Nick
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2010, 10:34 AM »
This reminds me, just before the mid-winter feed up Tree, myself and two children visited Arriondas. No otters but we had lovely views of Dippers, Grey wagtails and a lone Little egret in a tree by the river. Stupidly it didn't occur to me to contact you first John  ::)
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Offline John in Asturias

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« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2010, 23:04 PM »
This reminds me, just before the mid-winter feed up Tree, myself and two children visited Arriondas. No otters but we had lovely views of Dippers, Grey wagtails and a lone Little egret in a tree by the river. Stupidly it didn't occur to me to contact you first John  ::)

Next time give me a shout, I do a 40 minute patrol twice a day, though I've not seen the otters for over 2 months. 

The dippers are great.  There are 2 individuals with a terrority along the Rio Sella part of the park and they are always fighting.  We also get good views of kingfishers most days.  I got a couple of semi-decent shots the other day, though light was poor and it was FREEZING!
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Offline lisa

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« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2010, 09:28 AM »
Sorry John, hadn't seen your reply. We'll let you know next time and try and come minus 2 noisy kids!
The kingfisher shots have a lovely wintry quality  8)
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Offline John in Asturias

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« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2010, 09:48 AM »
come minus 2 noisy kids!

Noisy kids are fine.  One of the best viewings we had of 2 otters was standing in the main square just after school time.  It was chaos we kids playing, shouting etc. and the otters didn't care.  Even the wildlife must be noise resistant here.
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