Urban otter

Cap'n Fishy

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I had a go a couple of weeks ago to get photos of the young otter that has taken up residence on Dunsapie Loch, which is up Arthur's Seat - smack-bang in the middle of Edinburgh. There was no sign of it that day. I had another go today. Bingo! It was on the loch when I arrived, and was still on the loch when I left, 2 hours later.

I had heard it was not shy. That is an understatement. I think if I had had some fish in my pocket, I might have managed to get it to take one out my hand. At one point, I couldn't get focus on it, and I realised the distance limiter on my lens was switched on - means it won't try to hunt for focus closer than 3 metres. At this point, the otter was nearly under my feet - about 6 feet away from me!

It seems to be a young female, as it is quite small. She is quite the show-woman... bank lined with folk holding phone-cams up, and she was swimming back and forth, for them, over and over. I think her staple diet is sticklebacks. There are pike and perch in the loch, but my pal (who has been photographing her for weeks now) has shots of her with what is clearly sticklebacks. What I was seeing today was her dive, come up, mouth wide open, chew, chew, chew... dive... surface, chew, chew, chew... dive... surface, chew, chew, chew... over and over. So, in a lot of my photos, she has her jaws wide agape, making it look like she is angry, when all that she is doing is chewing a stickleback. 'A face like an otter chewing a stickleback': new alternative to the old adage, 'face like a bulldog chewing a wasp'! 😜 They can't be particularly palatable! She has been filmed making off with a mallard in her mouth, but I think it is the need to keep hunting for a prolonged period when she is resorting to sticklebacks that is affording everyone such a great chance to see her and photograph her.

My 2 hours of shooting resulted in me bringing home 900 frames (plus a couple of video clips), so I have a bit of sorting and processing to do! o_O

I did an initial sort through for potential keepers and narrowed it to 200. More work to do! I have only processed one shot so far - one that caught my eye when I was going through them...



You know you got close to your subject when the eye is in focus and the tips of the whiskers on both sides are out of focus!

I will put some more shots up when I get the 200 whittled down and processed.

Col
 

bobfly2

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There have quite a few folk pointing glass at that friendly otter. I had photos sent to by someone who takes their dog there quite frequently, and others from a friend in Lochinver who was in Edinburgh for two days and happened on it by chance!
 

codyarrow

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You get quite a few tourists asking where is the most likely place to see Otters in Caithness. They think I am taking the p!ss when I tell them Thurso opposite the British Legion.
 

easker1

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Nice pics, I used to see one in Inverness off the Grieg street Bridge chasing flounders, used to be there about lunch time not that bothered by folk, easker1
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Nice pics, I used to see one in Inverness off the Grieg street Bridge chasing flounders, used to be there about lunch time not that bothered by folk, easker1
Aye, I think it is largely just the extent to which they are familiar with humans. I mind seeing a documentary featuring otters in a far east city, and they basically just share the streets with humans, each criss-crossing as they go about their respective businesses.

It's just a bit weird when you experience it first hand, after seeing cameramen such as Gordon Buchanan and Charlie Hamilton-James going out at stupid o'clock, all hushed secrecy, staying downwind, creeping about, all to film otters at 100 yards distance... when I am struggling to get focus on it because it is under my feet! 🤪

Col
 

Fishtales

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Aye, I think it is largely just the extent to which they are familiar with humans. I mind seeing a documentary featuring otters in a far east city, and they basically just share the streets with humans, each criss-crossing as they go about their respective businesses.

It's just a bit weird when you experience it first hand, after seeing cameramen such as Gordon Buchanan and Charlie Hamilton-James going out at stupid o'clock, all hushed secrecy, staying downwind, creeping about, all to film otters at 100 yards distance... when I am struggling to get focus on it because it is under my feet! 🤪

Col
Singapore Botanic Gardens. I think it was one of the Attenborough films.
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Singapore Botanic Gardens. I think it was one of the Attenborough films.

Thanks, Sandy, I knew it was the far east somewhere. It wasn't just in a gardens, though. It was on a major river running through a city somewhere???

Col
 

scobo

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Who would have thought 30 odd years ago there'd be otters right in the middle of Edinburgh. I hear they're pretty common on the Water of Leith now too.
I lived there for 25 years and yet the only one I've seen in the wild was on a remote hill loch in Sutherland.
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Who would have thought 30 odd years ago there'd be otters right in the middle of Edinburgh. I hear they're pretty common on the Water of Leith now too.
I lived there for 25 years and yet the only one I've seen in the wild was on a remote hill loch in Sutherland.

Aye, Scott - they are on the Water of Leith, down as far as Bonnington - a short walk from me! Nowhere as easy to photograph in the middle of the day as that one, though. The ones on the WoL will be eating mostly trout, I would have thought. The other place you can see them locally is on the Figgate Pond, in Portobello. It is stuffed full of roach - it's an otter's paradise. If I was an otter, I'd prefer 8-inch roach to sticklebacks any day! 😜 I've seen the Figgate ones, but never managed a photo of them.

Col
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Another benefit from its presence - pure serendipity as regards the timing - here we all are, locked inside our health board region by covid travel rules - can't leave the city...

So, you take a walk through the park in the middle of the city, and you can watch an otter - for hours! There were any number of folk who were just stopping by and standing and watching and every one of them had a big smile on their face, thanks to that wee otter being there.

Col
 

bobfly2

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Just been told it is a pair at Dunsapie with the tame lady, smaller and with a pinkish spot on one cheek, being very approachable around her favourite rock.
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Aye, that will be it... I think. I still have in my head different footage of otters and humans mingling? I note it is a different species from our one.

I noticed the dogs in there. There were dogs about yesterday when I was there, but they all kept their distance, or were on leads. It would be interesting to see what happens if a dog approaches the Dunsapie otter. It might get short shrift if it was a big dog otter, but she's just a wee thing...

Col
 

Mrtrout

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I had a go a couple of weeks ago to get photos of the young otter that has taken up residence on Dunsapie Loch, which is up Arthur's Seat - smack-bang in the middle of Edinburgh. There was no sign of it that day. I had another go today. Bingo! It was on the loch when I arrived, and was still on the loch when I left, 2 hours later.

I had heard it was not shy. That is an understatement. I think if I had had some fish in my pocket, I might have managed to get it to take one out my hand. At one point, I couldn't get focus on it, and I realised the distance limiter on my lens was switched on - means it won't try to hunt for focus closer than 3 metres. At this point, the otter was nearly under my feet - about 6 feet away from me!

It seems to be a young female, as it is quite small. She is quite the show-woman... bank lined with folk holding phone-cams up, and she was swimming back and forth, for them, over and over. I think her staple diet is sticklebacks. There are pike and perch in the loch, but my pal (who has been photographing her for weeks now) has shots of her with what is clearly sticklebacks. What I was seeing today was her dive, come up, mouth wide open, chew, chew, chew... dive... surface, chew, chew, chew... dive... surface, chew, chew, chew... over and over. So, in a lot of my photos, she has her jaws wide agape, making it look like she is angry, when all that she is doing is chewing a stickleback. 'A face like an otter chewing a stickleback': new alternative to the old adage, 'face like a bulldog chewing a wasp'! 😜 They can't be particularly palatable! She has been filmed making off with a mallard in her mouth, but I think it is the need to keep hunting for a prolonged period when she is resorting to sticklebacks that is affording everyone such a great chance to see her and photograph her.

My 2 hours of shooting resulted in me bringing home 900 frames (plus a couple of video clips), so I have a bit of sorting and processing to do! o_O

I did an initial sort through for potential keepers and narrowed it to 200. More work to do! I have only processed one shot so far - one that caught my eye when I was going through them...



You know you got close to your subject when the eye is in focus and the tips of the whiskers on both sides are out of focus!

I will put some more shots up when I get the 200 whittled down and processed.

Col
Very nice shot Col you are lucky, I see them regularly on the river and I filmed two fishing for eels last year fifty yards in front of me.
Great to watch a privilege to have them so close.
S.
 

easker1

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remember Col, Otters belong to the weasel family, so they are pretty feisty, when I worked at the hatchery the otters used wander past us with no concern, I sat on the shore one day watching an otter about 10 yards away eating a Big Lumpsucker, not the slightest bit bothered by me, when I took my camera in the next day , it was no where to be seen and not for a good while after, easker1
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Just been told it is a pair at Dunsapie with the tame lady, smaller and with a pinkish spot on one cheek, being very approachable around her favourite rock.

I've just heard the same thing about there being two of them. I'm guessing the other is a bigger male, as one was filmed making off with a mallard in its mouth and I thought it was a fair old load for that wee female to carry.

I also heard someone up at the loch mention the pink cheek mark. The one I was snapping has a distinctive pink spot on her nose, but I didn't see any marks on her cheek. Maybe it is the other one?

Here is her nose mark...



I wonder how they split the territory - or maybe they are brother and sister and not got territorial yet? :unsure:

Col
 

williegunn

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I have a nasty feeling it won’t end happily. There was an urban otter in Elgin around a year ago, he visited the local boating pond in Cooper Park so of course was named Cooper the otter. Not sure what happened to him but.

Wild animals trusting humans, never ends well. Hopefully Arthurs Seat is steep enough to keep them safe.
 

Cap'n Fishy

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I have a nasty feeling it won’t end happily. There was an urban otter in Elgin around a year ago, he visited the local boating pond in Cooper Park so of course was named Cooper the otter. Not sure what happened to him but.

Wild animals trusting humans, never ends well. Hopefully Arthurs Seat is steep enough to keep them safe.

Well, seeing the situation, the immediate thing that you think about is that these otters are just too tame for their own good! There is no point in trying to keep it secret, as it is all out in the open. Loads of folk are going up there to see them. There are signs telling folk to respect their distance and keep back from the water's edge, but of course it is tempting to get closer to get better photos - and the one I was photographing was not bothered in the slightest. It probably doesn't help that its holt is on the other side of the road, so to get to it it has to come out the loch and get past all the people who are there to see it. My pal was up there last week when he saw it get a bit antsy with all the folk standing between the loch and where its holt was - and it was trying to get to it. He spotted the situation and suggested everyone move out the way to let it get across - which they all did and it got across OK.

Also, I don't know for how much longer the covid restrictions will mean the road is closed-off. Once it is reopened, there will be cars going along the road - which won't help either - though it is a single-track, one-way road.

I suspect a dog attack is the biggest threat to them. I hope folk going up there keep their gods on leads - and not those retractor ones about 30 yards long! :rolleyes:

The ones on the Water of Leith and the Figgate Pond, as well as the Dunsapie otters' parents on Duddingston Loch, seem to be thriving, anyway. Fingers-crossed for the Dunsapie ones. 🤞

Col
 

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