Saturday, 9 March 2013

Canon Fodder

That's Canon not cannon.  From 8 am until almost 11.30 I managed to get almost continuous views of a couple of otters on the local river.  Apparently they are a mother and a well-grown cub although I'm not sure what evidence this is based on.  I was just on my own when I found them along a favoured stretch and being on a weekday had hopes I might have them to myself as hundreds of people have already been to see them, I thought the fuss would have died down by now.  I've seen them before in other years (see previous postings), and they are quite habituated to people even dog walkers too.  They soon moved  further upstream, so I waited for them to re-appear.  While I was waiting, some alarm-calling gulls alerted me to a Red Kite passing north overhead!  Perhaps a migrant rather than an introduced bird, although it's hard to say.

With no further sign of the otters, I also moved too and soon found them again in a spot where I could see them easily from the bank.  Still no-one around so I got my paints out in preparation for some work on them.  But it wasn't going to happen.  Soon several photographers turned up, with no field skills, running back and forth to their cars to fetch gear and then run to the river.  Otters being otters, they were soon on the move.  I gave up sitting and followed them.  So over the next few hours the otters were relentlessly followed and photographed.  They were certainly aware of being looked at and occasionally swam in to the near bank out of inquisitiveness.  They spent time time running along the far bank, play fighting on a large grassy lawn, and then running and jumping into the river creating huge splashes as well as catching and eating many small fish.  I spent the entire time trying to convey all this action onto the page.  Incredibly hard it proved too, although things did gradually start fall into place after endless intense observation.  I worked in biro, putting lines down as fast as possible, trying to convey movement and parts of the otter from brief moments.  I'm never a fan of intense situations where people are wanting to get very close to their subject, and although the animals didn't seem unduly bothered they were aware of being observed.  Whilst I ended up dithering in order to draw, the others kept tabs on the otters, so I was able to catch to again.  Eventually they swam into a stretch of the river that was private and inaccessible.

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