Thursday, 20 November 2014

Otter Cubs

Today was another fantastic day; though not very warm we had sunshine all day bringing the best out of the autumn colours.    I would never have advised anyone to visit Skye in November, but after yesterday and today, I have changed my mind.  There are two things predictable about the weather on Skye, firstly its unpredictability, and secondly the worthlessness of Met Office forecasts.
Loch Ainort and the Red Hills
Not wanting to waste a brilliant day, we spent it on the croft looking for wildlife, particularly the otter family we saw yesterday.   Around 10am I saw them in the little sandy bay west of the croft (coarse sand / fine shingle would be a more accurate description)   I went out in the canoe and saw one of the cubs camouflaged in the kelp but there was no sign of the mother or the other cub.

After a picnic lunch I went out again and this time found the two cubs and watched them for thirty minutes or more.   I took the canoe in fairly close but not too close to scare them.   In and out of the water, up and under the kelp, coming close to the canoe in an innocent, inquisitive way. And almost fearless.


All the while I was wondering where the mother was; yesterday she had never been more than 5 metres from the cubs; today it looked as though they had been abandoned.   At about 15.30, back on land, I saw the cubs still where they had been, but still no mother.  Concerned for their welfare, because they cannot fend for themselves, I had a discussion with Grace Yoxon at the International Otter Survival Fund ( in Broadford.   I thought they were younger than they were - Grace estimated that they are three months old (I had not had time to work out their size and hence age from the measurements I made of one of the rocks they perched on) so we concluded that they would probably be fine, but I went back again just as it was getting dark and the tide was coming in.   They had gone, so fingers crossed, just a case of a home-alone cubs.

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