Following our visit to Manorbier and St Govans we headed over to Bosherston Lily Ponds in the hope of finding some Otters. Our previous two visits here have both been later on in the year, and on one of those occasions we had a superb encounter with a very inquisitive Otter that swam right beneath us at the eight arches bridge. As a result hopes were high for another success as we started the mile and a half walk around the lakes to our chosen spot. Being summer it made a nice change to see the valleys lush with greenery and the ponds filled with lily’s, but it was hard not to miss the incredibly low levels of water that currently exist.
The water levels are so low in fact that landowners the National Trust have banned all fishing on the lakes until they have had chance to recover. A drier winter followed by an exceptionally dry spring and early summer are to blame, and things don’t look like improving any time soon as we are still yet to get any decent sustained rainfall. One advantage to these conditions is that the fish are now very easy to see as they swim around just beneath the surface. We spotted this Pike from the first bridge and it must have measured at least seventy centimetres in length. A real whopper.
There was plenty of life in the trees along the lake edges as well, with one small area holding a mixed flock of Long Tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Willow Warbler. As we stood still it was impossible to get an accurate count as to how many birds were really present. It just seemed like we were completely immersed in the middle of the flock, which I suppose in a way we were. The sun was by now setting behind the trees but a brief chink of light lit up one of the Long Tailed Tits nicely. Although it’s not a particularly brilliant photo of the bird it does show that the leaves are starting to change colour, which seems rather appropriate given that today is officially the start of autumn.
When we finally made it to the eight arch bridge, after first picking out a juvenile Garganey amongst the Mallards (!), a Grey Heron had already taken up a watch on the parapets. He didn’t seem particularly keen on our company however and quickly moved on up the lake. As it turned out we could have left him to his own devices as a cold wind was whipping down the valley and a wait of twenty minutes failed to deliver any Otters. Thinking that the lack of water may have forced them elsewhere we started to head back to the car. At the “grassy bridge” we came across a family that were getting very excited about something. We joined them, looked down into the water, and to our amazement came face to face to with an Otter and her cub literally a meter away from us. They had apparently just swum through the overflow under the bridge and were now swimming around seemingly without a care in the world. As they started to move up the lake I quickly walked along its edge and took up a position that I hoped would coincide with their plans. As the following video shows I think I judged it to perfection.
Watching that back I still can’t believe how lucky we were to bare witness to these magnificent yet secretive creatures once again. Even better was the fact that the single cub actually turned out to be two, another wildlife first for me. Every time I see Otters I can’t help but be captivated by the unique character that each individual has, and I only wish that we could watch them for longer to get a better glimpse into their world. With a success rate of two out of three maybe I will get that insight that I crave over the coming years. I certainly hope so.