Morning Dog Walk : First Otter Spraint In A While

This morning I spotted the first Otter Spraint that I’ve noticed in a long time along our section of the River Odelouca. I often wonder what happens to the Otters when the river dries, I suspect their food source is in the farmer’s and firefighter’s barragems (man-made lakes).

You’ll notice that the Spraint is dark brown instead of the usually red colouring. This is due to the current lack of Louisiana Crayfish in the river.

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A Great Experience At A Practical Workshop At Salgados

I don’t currently advertise it as a service, however if asked, I will organise follow-up practical sessions for past attendees on my Digital Photography Fundamentals Workshop. I will be launching this as a full service shortly though!

This morning I met Joy at Salgados at 8am for a morning session on Bird Photography and we had a great time.

I always find it strange to feel in awe of spotting a European Magpie, in the UK every other bird seems to be one, but in the Algarve they one seem to appear only in certain localities, Salgados is one of those. Almost immediately, one came down to land nearby.

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Morning Dog Walk: Fresh Otter Evidence

I take a camera along on my Dog Walks to bring you some of the sightings that I see on my morning walks, these photos are rarely going to be great quality as its hard enough keeping an energetic Dog entertained and get close enough to anything. They also help me identify where species are so that I can plan to return.

Although I have been successful at a different river location nearby, my local Otters still remain very elusive. This morning, there is fresh evidence of Otter activity down at the river.

First I noticed fresh footprints in the wet mud.

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Close Encounter Of The Otter Kind

Let me set a story……

I have lived here in the Algarve Hills on the river bank of the Odelouca for almost 2.5 years. We are so lucky to live here and have the river run through our land. There are Otters present, but I have never managed to spot one during daylight hours. This also goes for a long stretch of the river in the area.

Now, lets cue-up Roy! Roy has recently moved to São Marcos da Serra, in fact has been here for little over a week. Yesterday morning I get a message from Roy stating he spotted an Otter in the River near the village…….WHAT? TWO AND A HALF YEARS ROY!

So, this morning at sunrise, I camouflaged myself against the river bank in the area Roy mentioned and waited……for 30 seconds! Yep, almost immediately after setting myself up 3 Otters turned up.

Unfortunately, they arrived before the sun had risen enough to light the river, so conditions where far from perfect as I struggled to photograph them swimming around with such a low shutter speed and high ISO. Whenever I am hiding with the camera I am always reluctant to press the shutter button, even with the camera set to “Quiet” mode, it still makes a noise (this is where Mirrorless will one day become a winner!) but I pressed it and hoped for the best!

Immediately, all 3 stopped and looked straight at me and I thought they would retreat to the bamboo on the opposite bank. However, one of them decided to investigate and headed straight for me where I managed to get these close up shots.

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Close Encounter Of The Otter Kind
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Morning Dog Walk: Pipits Everywhere And Fresh Otter Evidence!

On this morning’s Dog Walk we ventured through large field that has been ploughed. It is an old Olive Farm that is abandoned and therefore the area was very overgrown. I assume it has been cleared both for the fire risk and for grass to regrown for the local Sheep.

At first I thought it was going to hurt the local birds as I often saw flocks of Goldfinch feasting on the seeds. However, although these have now moved on, the area has become full of Wagtails and what I thought was either Water Pipits or Meadow Pipits. As I was with Wally, I struggled to get close enough to ID, so took this following photo and asked some Portuguese Birders for advice

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Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) - maybe...
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Rain Has (almost) Started The River Odelouca

The River Odelouca is important for both wildlife, farming and human life in the Algarve. It runs dry in the heat of the summer and usually starts running in November. Last year, of course, we had no rain in the autumn and it wasn’t until March that the river started. It is critical to local wildlife, but also fills the Barragem de Odelouca which provides a large portion of drinking water to the Algarve region.

We’ve had a fair amount of rain over the last few weeks which has been filling the dry river bed pools and this morning it has started to trickle. I wouldn’t class it as running yet as there are still some breaks in the flow, but it has started to trickle. I think we are a few heavy showers away from the river running.

Trickling River

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