Monday, 15 June 2009

The sound of otters

I've never seen a wild otter. I've done my otter appreciation apprenticeship. I've read the books. Tarka the Otter was a childhood favourite book. I saw the movie at the cinema. Ring of Bright Water was nice too. I've watched all the documentaries. Checked up on them on Springwatch. Sketched them and scraperboarded them. I've even holidayed many times near rivers and lakes. But still I've never set eyes on a single one. I have heard one though. It was when I was staying at a cabin at a place called The Tranquil Otter. The place has a large lake with a path that circles it. There are special hides where you can um... hide and espy all the wildlife doing their thing. I heard my otter when I woke up at about 3am in the morning. It was a warm night and I'd left the bedroom window open. From the lake I could hear something splashing about, submerging and surfacing. It could have been anything. But then I heard the chittering that I'd heard so many times during my otter appreciation apprenticeship. Unmistakable.
Unfortunately the night was still pretty dark. I strained my eyes anyway but couldn't see a thing. Still the place has many other attractions. It's really great for chilling out with a stack of books. The lodge I stay at is specially adapted for people using wheelchairs, with ramps, wide doorways and a large shower room. There's a log fire for when the nights go chilly. There are ducks. My goodness there are ducks. One duck has even gained a special notoriety. Previous guests have named this crazy individual Henrietta. Her exploits are detailed in the lodge's guest book. I have met her too. Crazy duck. There are swans that doze on the lawns with their cygnets crowding around. There is a row boat that Harry has captained at least twice, sometimes pursued by the swan. One year a Moorhen used to come right onto the decking seeking birdseed to feed to its solitary chick. Make the slightest sound and both would leg it down the lawn like Roadrunner escaping from Wile E. Coyote. Those woodpeckers were there too. The variety of birds was amazing. A full feeder would empty in a day. Sometimes the feeder would have nearly twenty birds on it with others queued up on the railing.

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