An afternoon with an Otter

A cycle ride to Mae Sands and a picnic of bread, cheese and water with a nice apple. Mae Sands is so close to the Knowe o’ Skea, the Iron Age burial site that a trip round the headland is a must. I sit and look out across the water with the island of Rousay in the distance. It’s beautiful.

After an age of stillness I see a shape in the water. I think it must be the small grey seal that has been circling and looking at me, but then I see what looks like a long fin or flipper. It isn’t a seal. As it climbs up onto the rocks I realise I’m eerily close to an Otter. It sits playing on the rocks. It’s scratching, grooming, rubbing itself in seaweed, licking itself and stretching on the rocks. I know it’s a rare sight.

I have my camera with me and move slowly around the rocks to get a good view of it. I haven’t a long telephoto lens, so 200mm focal length is all I have. At this distance, it’s enough to capture it time after time after time. It knows I’m there and looks warily at me. I lie admiring it for half an hour until it’s time for it to fish. It’s swimming on its back, dipping underwater, floating and scratching and riding the breaking waves as it makes its way down the coast and is gone.

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