Saturday, 9 March 2013

Spring arrives at the Lakes, 5th March

An amazing spring day today, 14degC!  The warmest day of the year so far, I even saw a male Brimstone butterfly.  Clear hazy blue skies.  Down on the Nunnery Lakes I found a drake Goldeneye which I assumed I was the last person to see.  The other signs of springs here was the return of at least four Curlew, an Oystercatcher (heard only) and also many Lapwing - a total of 70+ flew over from the east, some of which dropped down and landed on Shadwells fields.  There were at least six separate males that were already present and were defending territories, displaying and driving off rivals and Carrion Crows that ventured into their space.  I saw one glance sideways at the sky, I looked up and sure enough there were two Common Buzzards circling very high overhead.
Goldeneye on Lake A

Lapwing and Buzzard

Curlew.  Again all in biro.
I passed the otters today but this time they were much closer to the town centre and being watched by about thirty people, and again photographers running around after them.  I didn't really feel like hanging around, so I left after a couple of minutes.  I have heard that some photographers have been feeding the otters with salmon from Tesco.  This is really not a good idea.  These animals are tame enough as it is.  An otter is never close enough for a photographer it seems.  Is there no concern for their welfare?  Feeding them is going to bring them into conflict with humans: someone might end up being bitten by an otter perhaps, and then pest control officers from the council will be brought in the despatch them.  Or they may end up getting run over by road traffic.  Or they may get attacked by dogs that are off the lead.  They have more than enough natural food to feed on in the river itself.  They already have a bad press too, having raided a couple of private fish ponds in gardens and killed many carp.  That said, the owners of one of the carp ponds apparently came out to enjoy seeing the otters along the river.  I'd say that the biggest coup from having these local tame otters is that they are quite visible to the wider public: there were lots of ordinary people (non-birders) who were stopped in their tracks, mesmerised by the sight of the otters.  I overheard a couple of local lads, one saying he'd never seen an otter before, that he'd seen pictures of them in books, on TV, and once in a zoo, but never in the wild.  With the general public so disconnected from nature these days, the presence of these amazing animals is such a good thing.  Everything must be done to protect them and they need to be treated with the respect they deserve.


  1. Good work Richard. Nice, interesting sketches as usual. Really conveys the scene.

  2. Hi Richard
    Totally agree with your views about the Otters and the general public. We always seem to want to interfere with wildlife usually to its detriment.I fear the worst