We took our usual trip into Inverness to top up on supplies but decided to first pay a visit to a small Local Nature Reserve that we hadn't visited for some time. Hoping to catch sight of some seabirds and waders and if we were really lucky the glimpse of an otter, we were equipped with our binoculars and cameras with long lenses. Pulling into the car park, we saw that the tide was some way out but on the turn. The waters were glassy smooth as there was unusually no wind. We scanned the shoreline and the flat waters of the Firth. Redshank, curlew, gulls, heron - all the usual suspects were poking about amongst the bladderwrack and rocks and then Jim pointed out a small arrowhead of movement in the water off the point some 50 m away. An arched back and long tail disappeared swiftly under the surface and then some splashing, and two heads reappeared as we watched and we realised there was a mother otter and her cub rolling around and over each other but far too far away to photograph. We headed around the shore to find a vantage point form which we would be able to get a better view and settled down to wait. For a while we thought they had made off across the Firth to the far bank, but suddenly a flash of orange caught Jim's eye. It was the bright flesh of a large lump sucker fish amongst the seaweed being chomped on by the otter cub. She seemed unaware of our presence and turned and dragged the fish around to get the choicest morsels.
After about 20 minutes we saw the unmistakeable head of another otter coming straight towards us and the cub through the water. It was the mother otter who being more experienced and wary spotted us, and was a little less comfortable with eating in our presence. I believe she had caught the fish and left it for her cub while she went to fish for herself.
She promptly picked up the remains of the fish and dragged it back into the water and made off across the Firth to the far side with the little one following closely at her side.
Needless to say we were thrilled to be able to watch this pair of beautiful creatures just doing what they do! A routine shopping trip turned into a magical moment. Just one more reason we love living here in the Highlands.