Otters, a late evening encounter

FRIDAY 29TH April 2016. Jandula River.


Refreshed, smelling somewhat normal, and sporting a mop of hair that actually resembles hair after having washed it for the first time since I left the coast, I wont say how many days ago.


Truth be known, I loved the hot shower, but the mattress and familiar cushion and Duvet in the back of my van is preferable to the sausage pillow and mattress of last nights rented rural accommodation. Early start down at the river but no Lynx sightings, so I turned my attention to a pair of Golden Orioles that are courting and nesting somewhere along the river.


Spent fruitless hours trying to get the pair of them on a branch but, they were flitting around like Mexican jumping beans and I began to realize this species would require oodles of time and patience to capture, so frustrated and feeling a little sorry for myself I wandered onto the private Finca ( farm or Ranch ) where I was yesterday to see what I could find.


The sweet sound of trickling water down in an arroyo soon had my attention and I found myself scaling more fences, in order to find what promised to be a small piece of paradise overflowing with wildflowers, butterflies and bird species down among the thick and often impassable bushes and trees. Often the only way to quicken ones progress through this type of landscape is to follow the deer and wild boar tracks, but one has to remember, one may have the odd close encounter with a stiff haired, very fast and unpredictable wild boar, they are under no circumstances  too be taken lightly. It can, and often does, crash through dense undergrowth with the same ease I can crash through sheets of toilet paper hanging on a washing line made from spiders silk.


This type of encounter is one I have had the pleasure of in the sierras where I lived before, and one you do not need to re experience, as the outcome is always the same, you will lose. The path I followed was loaded with fresh tracks, and heavy signs of boar digging around for food, it is not difficult to spot, as it resembles the craters left my mortar shells, no really, these boar do not mess around when they are in need of a snack.


The effort was worth it when at the bottom of the Arroyo, behind yet more fence, I was presented with water cascading into the pool over rocks covered with a beautiful carpet of the moss and flowers , the whole area alive with bees and other assorted creepy crawlies, butterfly chased butterfly and my efforts to film a couple of species as they fed on the plethora of wild flowers that carpeted the floor, were thwarted every time, so I accepted defeat and moved on.


Ten paces along the animal track and I found a dead wild boar piglet in the middle of the narrow path . It had not been dead longer than a few hours, and again I immediately checked for any sign of the mother. At first I though it could have been killed by a Lynx or Fox, but after checking the body I could see no signs of puncture marks in the neck , where a Lynx would strike, no blood anywhere on it, so it probably died of natural causes or became separated from the female and just died from from lack of food, as it would definitely still have been suckling from it’s mother. Never one to waste a chance, I carried it to a place by the river in the hope it might attract a Lynx or passing vulture, but as the late afternoon light faded, and having seen a Lynx only 2 days before, close to where I left the bait, I figured this Lynx would not be back this way for a few days,as it ‘s patrols a large territory, and it was now too late for vultures to be cruising for food. I will return in the morning to see if it still there.


With a long tiring day behind me and a glass of Ribera del Duero red wine waiting for me in the Los Pinos hotel bar, where I sit to write and also steal their electricity to charge all my batteries, every couple of days, I thought my wildlife encounters were over for the day, how wrong I was. Driving back to the main road from the end of the track along the river, I was thinking about the Otters in the river below, so seeing as how there was just enough light left to spend 10 minutes with the Binoculars, I pulled over to see if I could spot them, as it was a species I had never sen in the wild before.


No sooner had I lifted the binoculars  to my eyes, than a loud splashing noise floated up the steep side of the valley, following the sound to the far side of the rivers edge I spotted my first wild Otter, I ran to the car and grabbed the camera, and as I peered through the viewfinder I could not believe my luck , 3 Otters slid from the darkness of the bank and into the water and gracefully propelled themselves along in procession, and after a few swift whips of their thick tales they reached an area of thick overhanging vegetation and one by one as they came to it, there heads went down and the sleek powerful bodies disappeared into the dark water under the vegetation, I managed to capture this on video as I had remembered to leave the video camera setting on fully automatic, as at this time of the day in fading light, situations like this can happen so quickly that one does not have time to play with the Iris and zoom setting or white balance, as you risk losing the shot, as I most certainly would have done if I had not set it all to automatic,.


The glass of red tasted extra special, I was to put it mildly very pleased with myself.

In order to capture more footage of the family, I need to find a way down the steep side of the valley, this is my task for the weekend, I may be here primarily for the Iberian Lynx, but I could never pass up an opportunity like this and have no intention of doing so, the one thing I do have plenty of is time.

Stories and Footage From The Natural World