There have been many highlights in the 7 years of writing this blog, but no doubt one of them has been seeing and recording the activities of otters on the Ock.
First seen in May 2011 were at a female otter and her two cubs:
There then followed nine other sightings, including this one in June 2011 - in broad daylight.
Whilst the Eurasian otter can live up to 20 years in captivity, in the wild, they are lucky to make it to 4 years old, with sexual maturity occurring at 18 months for females.
Hence, the otter in the photographs above have almost certainly died, maybe this otter, seen in 2013 is one of the cubs having reached maturity or maybe even it's a grand-cub.
This was the last sighting for three years, yet it's apparent that otters were still resident in the Ock as their droppings (known as spraints) could occasionally be found, the most recent in March 2016:
And then, whilst looking for water voles in April this year, there was a very unexpected encounter with another otter - on the same stretch where the first otters were recorded. So unexpected it had dived out of sight before a decent photograph could be taken.
So perhaps this otter could then be the great grand-cub of the otter first seen back in 2011....
But perhaps not, one of the reasons Eurasian otters have short life spans in that they are fiercely territorial and inflict horrendous injuries - often fatal - on each other.
So maybe this otter is not even related to those seen 5 years ago, perhaps it is a descendant of a different otter which moved into the Ock and displaced or killed the resident female?
But it may not even be a female, it could be a male with territories in the Abingdon area seeking a female?
As with otters, they often raise more questions than answers, but whatever its lineage or gender, it's just great to know these wonderful and seldom seen animals are still present on our small and somewhat insignificant river