Two Pink Footed Geese came over from the north had a bit of a look at a small group of Canadas and Grey Lags feeding in the recently harvested field but decided not to join them and continued southwards.
From the depth of the reedbeds we heard four Water Rails squealing. Overhead small numbers of Greenfinches and Chaffinches started to pass to the south east while a Pied Wagtail went the opposite way. None of the Blackbirds could be turned into Ring Ouzels.
But the Safari doesn’t need exotica such as yesterday’s Yellow Browed Warbler (Heysham), Honey Buzzard (Hesketh Out Marsh on the South-side) or Red Backed Shrike (three miles up the road at Rossall) to get over excited. We’ve now got something better than those three put together. Our mystery has been confirmed this morning through the finding and identification of this.
It’s not that big is it but it is highly significant...’territorial’ Otter spraint and it is the first record of Otter on the nature reserve since MJ saw one in the early 1950s ie pre DDT, pre landfill pollution, pre nature reserve, pre the Safari, pre almost everything. Great news!!! Now for the hard part – we’ve got to spot the animal itself!!! It’s hiding somewhere in that lot.
The spraint follows sightings of footprints found on the island earlier in the week. Like the footprints it was found over-lying evidence of American Mink. It’s almost as if this much larger animal is telling the Mink – “look matey I’m here now sling yer ‘ook – or else”. Anything that helps reduce the impact of these voracious alien predators can only be a good thing for the nature reserve even if it does mean the loss of some extra fish.
On site we looked exactly where this was found for signs of Otters and even saw it but dismissed it as ‘too small’ and probably something to do with the Mink doo-doo not so far away – well we should have got down on all fours and sniffed it like the expert did a few hours later! The Ranger brought it up to the office where we did have a little sniff, being extremely careful not to sniff to hard and have it disappear up our snozwanger (Dunno how much a line of coke is these days but a line of Otter sh*te would be pricelss), sure enough there was a sweetness about the scent rather than the powerful stench of Mink droppings, a sort of new mown hay combined with fresh fish smell - far from unpleasant. Just goes to prove you learn something every day – we were looking for the more obvious much larger ‘normal’ spraint and didn’t know they do these tiny little territorial dollops.
Where to next? Back to the reserve of course, where else would we go?
In the meantime let us know what’s snuck into your outback