When will I learn?

This morning I got up at 05:45 am to look for the mother otter and her kitts. I’d seen them recently, and as the forecast looked promising I was hopeful I might get some shots in better light.

Now this is the same place where, 4 years ago, I left my camera in a hide while I nipped to the loo. And when I got halfway there I stumbled across a mother otter and her kitts on the path.

This time i found the otter and kitts fishing right beside it, in and around the branches of a fallen tree. The branches stopped me taking photos so I waited patiently for them to emerge onto open water where I could take a picture. The light was perfect. Then everything went silent and still. Had they gone from the tree out into the lake? Had I missed them? I stepped three paces to my right to get a clear view of the lake. And as I did so, the mother otter and her kitts swam right past me, no more than twelve feet away. If I moved they would dive and I would not see them again. So i had to stand there, immobile, watching as the shot of my dreams slowly swam away, the female watching me closely and sniffing repeatedly. Otters have a very good sense of smell and I got the impression I was being filed away somewhere in her list of things to watch out for.

I went home, almost in tears, but returned to the reserve that afternoon. For hour after hour I saw nothing. But just as I was about to go home, I saw the mother otter and kitts appear as if by magic. The light was fading but it was a joy to watch them playing. At one point one of the kitts climbed onto its mothers back just as she was diving, and I finally got a photo. But even if I hadn’t got anything, an early start and a long day would have been a small price to pay.

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