Monday, 2 March 2015

Winter is still with us as is the otter family

Snow!   Rain and wind for the last few days, and now winter is back or rather it never went away.  
Anyone who does not know Skye assumes that we get severe winters, because after all we are a long way north, but the Gulf Stream sees to that and we end up with mild wet winters followed by cool wet summers.   Today was therefore a real surprise as we had snowfalls overnight, the soft flaky stuff rather than the balls of ice that we had in January.

I saw the otters just before breakfast, and stayed with them for about an hour; the breakfast pastries in the oven were unfortunately rather well done as a result, for which I was strongly chastised.     The family came up from Loch na Caraidh moving into Ainort where they  ran into  a male coming over from the Scalpay direction.   A brief set-to ensued with a few warning noises 'hah-hah', and one shriek when one of the otters must have got a bite.  After a wary parting, the family moved further along keeping very close to the shore while the male retreated to deeper water.   Eventually it lost interest completely and headed off towards Moll.

We like to anthropomorphise animal behaviour and impose on them our ideal such as neat and tidy family groups; male, female and two offspring   With otters, as for most mustelids, such family groupings are far from the case.     After mating the male does not stick around and leaves the female to bring up cubs alone (so maybe human behaviour is trending to that of otters in the present day).   Indeed cubs are at risk if subsequently a male is encountered, even if it is their parent,  as it can attack them and do damage.

The family came out onto the rocks for about 10 minutes beyond the bay then spent a long period fishing over the kelp.   The cubs, which are now about 6 months old, are fully proficient at catching their own food and eating it in the water.   Fish were caught and eaten at quite a pace, though too far away to identify the fish species, but the sheer efficiency was impressive; a short dive, a fish, a few bites and gone, then another dive, another fish.

Off to Fish


Approaching the Rocks

The trail camera picked up otters by the cliff holt twice in the last 8 days.    This is the best, though sadly brief, clip.  

1 comment:

  1. More lovely photos of the otters. Thank you for sharing.