Monday, 7 March 2011

Maize Beck: VII

The spraint documented and the location assessed I carried on down the valley. The beck falls in step after step, fed by small runnels and sikes that flow down the hill sides. Tracking otters across this substrate is impossible, I look for soft muddy pools where a print may be found but there is nothing. I concentrate on the grassy band and at a place where the bank rose high above the rocky flow I found more otter spraint – this time left in four small deposits along a 10 metre length of bank. Each spraint was between 3cm and 5cm in length and were of the same semi-solid mucousy texture that had been deposited several kilometres upstream on the slab. It seems that the animal was taking no chances in marking its area clearly and thoroughly.
I have found similar otter deposition sites in woodland areas, it would appear that dog otters move through the landscape using both the river and the bank, depositing spraint on high points above the water to allow the scent to move down the valley, signalling presence and ownership. This is a satisfying find, telling me that my reading of the landscape was correct, affirming things that I only suspected to be true.

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