I’m buried deep in reeds, with slightly damp feet from the oozing mud. I’m following the river bank to see where it takes me. On my journey I see a bright stone and, placed in a neat pile upon it, is what I might describe as a poo, if I didn’t think that it was a spraint. A spraint? I suspect an Otter has been here. I’m so sure it’s an Otter poo, because of the tiny crushed bones within it, that I pick it up and sniff it. I wouldn’t do that with any old poo I find, you understand.
It’s distinctly fishy.
The bones are so sharp that one pierces my thumb.
Then I see the footprints:
They are big footprints, with deep claw marks. It’s an emotional moment for me. Otters, here, in my home town.
There’s quite an Otter motorway up the river bank.
I used to be on a charity board of trustees with one of the country’s leading mammal experts, who had particular expertise in Otters. He could identify their habits, spot their spraints, and know their footprints. If there was the faintest whiff of an Otter he could spot its tracks, trails and signs. Yet, as he mentioned quietly to me, he had never, ever seen one in the wild, despite decades of experience.
Do I have a chance of seeing one? I’m going to give it a go.