Day Thirteen

The number thirteen has lived up to its history – a very good day for
me. In short, otters. Otters, otters, and more otters. And I got to
handle a bird of prey, a Bengal Eagle Owl…and might I say…..he
was lovely.

We had a brilliant morning on the way to Devon at the Tamar Otter
and Wildlife Sanctuary. They keep both Asian small clawed otters
(the ones we have in our zoos) and most fascinatingly, British otters
who come in for rehabilitation and sometime stay, when they decide
life is better at the sanctuary than it might be in the big bad world.
The otters are kept in family groups so their social bonds are in tact,
and we were able to observe the mother’s behavioural tactics in
serving and protecting her cubs.

We were lucky to arrive at display and feeding time. First the birds
of prey, where I was lucky to hold my owl; we were also privileged
to hear a most knowledgable keeper as he talked us through their
thinking power, physical strength, killing techniques, sight and
hearing attributes of the Bengal Eagle Owl, the Snow Owl
(Hedwig!), a Kestral and a Falcon. All amazing birds, who were
allowed to hunt and returned to their keeper of thier own accord.

The otters were next. Much squeaking from the Asian small clawed
crew, who swore they were STARVING…when in fact they get fed 4
times a day, and a equally knowledgeable keeper who took us
through otter social and familial mores. Four sets of Asian
otters….and then three sets of the British Otters. So different!
Bigger, furrier, longer heads, but with rounder faces. Equally
squeaky and demanding, still four feeds a day, but with bigger fish.
Love, love, love.

As an aside, the fish come from the local fish and chip shop…they
can’t use the bony bits and have to pay to get rid of them…so they
give them to the otters. Recycling at its best.

Have loved for decades a very old movie called “Ring of Bright
Water” the story of a man who rescues an otter from a British pet
store in the 60s and sets him up in his London flat, only to find that
it doesn’t quite work. He then moves his otter and his life to the
Scottish seaside to write. It’s a true story with a sad ending. I must
have watched it countless times and longed for an otter to call my
own….and here are my beloved British Otters, cavorting in ottery
person. I got the best shot of one begging for a fish, mid squeak,
and was totally captivated otherwise.

Otters fed, we toured the rest of the sanctuary, and saw chipmunks,
polecats….with babies, wallabies, countless water fowl and owls,
peacocks, ducks and baby ducks, and lastly Scottish wild cats. Oh
my goodness…Scottish wildcats. Lazy in the sun, having a very catty
cleaning session, and much like an oversized tabby…but with a
bucket load of attitude to spare.

We left after lunch at the cafe, and the feeling that the animals were
loved and well cared for. A very happy place.

Also stopped off at the Lydford Gorge on the way forward. Only got
to to take brief peek at it, but what a pretty area. A river ran
through the base of the gorge, full of trout fingerlings, lovely
mossed trees and dappled sunlight. Gorgeous.

Ensconced at home in our new spot now, a drink at the local pub,
and home made burgers for dinner.

Otts. I do love them. Happy little creatures. Happy day. Otterly
lovely, one might say.