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Since I first came to Otter Lake in 1974 I'd been hoping to see an otter here. When I was young I'd read Gavin Maxwell's Ring of Bright Water, which was enough to make anyone fall in love with otters. But I figured it was just a name and the otters had probably long since disappeared.
In 2014 we built our house on Otter Point, and named it The Ottery. Neighbours said they'd seen them here, so seeing the elusive otter became a challenge for us.
We soon started coming across signs of their presence. for photos of Seeking signs of otters. ▶
Our first live sighting; fishing and exploring just downstream from Turtle Crossing (the culvert between North and South Otter Lakes).
One evening around 8pm we saw a V in the water crossing from the far side of the lake, directly towards us. It was clearly an otter, swimming on the surface for a bit then diving for a bit.
Looking down we could see it on our perimeter path, eating a large fish. We watched and snapped for a while, but the sound of the camera spooked it and it left the fish and dived back into the lake. It swam back and forth and in circles, often looking up curiously to where we were. As it swam it made a regular sort of cough-snort sound every few seconds.
Eventually it came back on shore and continued eating. I stopped using the camera to avoid scaring it off again. It was quite a big fish and we were close enough to hear the crunching of teeth on bones. The next day all that remained on the path were the intestines of the fish.
I was out in my kayak around 9am in South Otter Lake. I was approaching a bay where there is a beaver lodge and I often encounter a beaver.
At first I thought I could see three beavers in the water near the shore, but as I approached one of them swam towards me and rose out of the water to get a better look. These were typically curious otters, not beavers.
I eventually counted six of them together. They retreated into the swamp, but were back again when I returned. (Lousy photos, but I needed to record such a fun sighting.)
The end of 2020 was a good time for spotting otters. We saw several in a bay in South Otter Lake in November. In December I disturbed one on the edge of our property and it swam off-shore for over 45 minutes, constantly watching me and snorting at me. The next day we disturbed one on Elbow Lake; that one proceeded to pop up through holes in the ice to watch us.
During January and February 2021 the camera we have installed at Otter Point picked up many visits from otters on and around our dock. It seemed a favourite place to find a hole through the ice and come up for air and play. Then one day in March we noticed this beautiful specimen curled up in the evening sun on the dock, and this time I had a good camera accessible.
A pair of otters showing their playful side, on and around our dock. We've noticed (via our wildlife camera) that they like our dock area in the winter when the lake is frozen over, but there is a like open water around the dock allowing them to surface. (Three short clips joined together.)