Our Wild    Life

Nature photography by John Langley ARPS & Tracy Langley ARPS

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Mull - October 2016

Following a disappointing number of otter sightings on our visit earlier this year (in March), we returned to Mull.

This March we had only 20 sightings of otters and thought maybe that they were foraging for frogs in the ditches rather than fishing in the open sea & lochs, therefore staying out of sight. On this trip there we certainly more otters around - we had 59 sightings in the 2 weeks. Some days we saw 6, 7 and even 8 otters in a day. It was lovely to watch them out on the lochs, fishing for hours at a time and occasionally bringing larger catches ashore to eat.

One spot we parked at to watch otters was frequented by stonechats

After a few rainy days at the start of our fortnight the weather improved and was mild and dry for the most part with just a few showers. Rainbows were a welcome by-product of the showery days.

And we had a few lovely blue-sky days

We’ve made many trips to Mull and other Scottish islands to photograph otters, so we now have a large range of images. However, our encounters have mostly been with single otters. Therefore on this trip we wanted to try and find a family. We searched for otters every day, usually on foot and occasionally driving around the island, but we kept finding single otters. Towards the end of the first week we finally found a family - a mother with two cubs. We spent the whole of the second week following them every day. We usually had them in our sights for 5 to 6 hours each day as we followed them on foot along a 2-mile stretch of coast. They spent most of their time in the water catching and eating smaller fish, then occasionally bringing larger ones to the shore. Once or twice a day they would disappear into crevices on the rocky shore, or under large boulders, presumably for naps as the cubs appeared to tire after an hour or two in the water. They would re-emerge 30 to 90 minutes later, full of beans. All the rest of our otter images are of the family members.

Mum would tend to eat the first large fish of the day herself, then any other large ones would be given to the cubs who played tug of war with it until the fish tore and each ended up with a piece.

The two cubs were a little different in size but both cubs were seen to catch fish. However, the smaller cub tired after a while and just rolled onto its back when mum and the larger cub dived.

We were happy to see that the smaller cub managed to get its share of the larger fishes mum caught.

What a belly - full of fish !

One day we saw an eider duck, asleep, floating along with the tide. The duck came within 10 feet of the otter who seized the opportunity by attacking and killing it then she had to struggle to the shore with the heavy load. This must have been a sizeable meal for her as she took over ½ an hour to eat it. However, the cubs didn’t seem too keen on the duck - they must prefer fish.