Otter update, and a starving woodcock

The starving woodcock in my garden

The starving woodcock in my garden

I have had no more ducks taken by the otter, probably because I am keeping them in the shed.  I only let them out now when I can supervise them to roam around the wood, splash about in the burn and quietly preen without risk of being killed and eaten.  The otter is still in the area. A black labrador belonging to a neighbour a couple of hundred yards away chased it through the garden the other day, cornering it briefly between a shed and a fence, before it managed to slip under the fence into the burn on the other side. I suspect that if it had not escaped, the dog might have had second prize. The same neighbour saw it crossing the road, coming towards the burn, a few mornings before that.

I gave a talk last night to the Methven WRI. Many of the people live near me, upstream or downstream, and reported that lately their dogs have been barking at an unseen ‘being’ in the garden. One reported having seen a mink on several occasions. If this is the case then the mink is taking a chance as the otter would readily make a meal of it. While I don’t particularly want an otter around, but I definitely don’t want a non-native North American mink.

Just as darkness was coming down yesterday, when I took my dog for a walk, it suddenly barked and sprung forward, then pulled on the lead towards the burn, where it barked continuously towards some bushes. This is strange behaviour for Molly, who very seldom barks, and I am sure she had scented (or seen) the otter.

When I was ‘baby-sitting’ the ducks this afternoon I saw a bird fluttering in the wood. I went to have a closer look and found that it was a woodcock. The bird could not get off the ground and was easily caught. Its fluttering showed me both wings were OK but when I picked the bird up it was as thin as a rake. I showed it to my wife, Jan, who asked what we could give it to eat. Bread, fat and bird seed are no use so I put it in a box in the garage with a liberal sprinkling of mealworms. I doubt it will eat the worms, even though this is food that would suit its diet. It might have been kinder to have killed it but we’ll see what the morning brings. I won’t hold my breath.

PS – Checked at 6.30 pm and woodcock had died.

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