Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Otter chasing Grey Heron at Leighton Moss

Last month I visited Leighton Moss RSPB on what was probably the coldest day of the winter so far. The frozen lagoons provided an ideal opportunity for viewing a number of usually shy species. I made straight for the public hide on the main causeway and was not disappointed as there was an Otter seen trotting across the ice as soon as I sat down.
And then another appeared, and another... soon there were up to four Otters on the ice, playing, fishing, falling though the ice and occasionally disappearing into the reeds. Magical!
The Mallards roosting on the ice appeared to pay the Otters little attention, unlike when ducks roost on open water and scatter at the first sign off an Otter's sinuous back, sleek tail or even just the hint of a wake in the water. On the ice they could clearly keep a watchful eye on this predator.
Similarly, a Grey Heron roosting on the edge of the reeds paid scant attention to these playful mammals; that was until two Otters got a little too close for comfort. Little did I think that an Otter would have a go at such a large bird, but the Heron wasn't going to take any chances and flew away to what it thought was a safe distance. At this point the Otters disappeared into the reeds, only for one to reappear behind the Heron and proceed to give chase. The Heron took off again, and I think was inches away from being caught when the ice gave way beneath the Otter; a close shave indeed!
The following photos illustrate the series of events. The action took place close to the limit of my camera's lens and at one of the few occasions on the day when the sun went behind the clouds; typical! I wouldn't normally publish photos of such poor quality, but the behaviour was fascinating and justifies their inclusion in my blog.


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