I have been paddling for six years now and until today had not seen an Otter. Or at least I could not be totally sure.
A few years ago in the evening I used to paddle from Howsham Hall in Yorkshire up the Derwent to the Stone Trough Pub at Kirkham where I would have a pub lunch before paddling back in the twilight. On one occasion I heard a Tawny Owl in the wood on the right bank and as I paddled I did my best impersonation of an Owl call and heard the Owl in the wood calling and coming closer until It eventually saw me and realised I wasn't an owl at all and flapped off screeching as it flew back into the trees.Anyway when it came to Otters I had been told they had been seen on the same stretch of river and one of those evenings I think I saw one disappear into a hole in the bank to one side of me but as I only saw its back end and it was twilight I couldn't be sure.
This weekend I was staying at Barton Turf on the Norfolk Broads and had also been told many times there are Otters in the area but hadn't seen one. I have also been out on quite a few early morning paddles in an effort to see one without success.
This morning I awoke at six and was at the waters edge by 6.15.
The route I planned to take is from Barton Turf to Neatishead and back and I have paddled it many times in good visibility so although it looked foggy I was confident I would be able to find my way there and back. There are posts and landmarks to follow along the route and the water was flat as a pancake.
One of the landmarks is a collection of buildings that are normally moored to some posts and are
owned by the Norfolk Punt club. The buildings are stowed away at Barton Turf for the winter and had been towed there only yesterday but the posts remain and I took a picture of them as I passed.
My next landmark is the Nancy Oldfield Trust building that is on the corner where I turn right for Neatishead and it was around here that I heard a strange noise.
As I rounded the corner I saw something moving on a flattened area of reeds and it slowly dawned on me that I was looking at an Otter. As carefully and quietly as I could I reached for my pocket and unzipped it to take out my camera but the noise carries more easily when the air is damp and the Otter turned to look my way before slipping into the water. I still couldn't believe my luck and put my camera on it in video mode as it began to swim away.I recommend you watch this on full screen mode as it is quite far way from me.
A short but sweet encounter with one of natures most elusive creatures!