While I love this blog, I now pretty much only write on my other two blogs: BirdingBlogs.com and 10,000 Birds - I would love to see you there!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Eurasian Otters in Europe and Austria

I have just been reading about the Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra, Fischotter) and they are, as you can well imagine, completely fascinating creatures.

First of all, their home ranges are HUGE. Males in Scotland have territories along streams and shorelines 39km long, while females only use 16-22km. They will have a good number of resting areas spread out throughout the home range. These otter resting areas are either underground, dry grass-lined dens often with an underwater entrance and separate breathing entrance (holts), and above-ground "hovers". In the areas where they are nocturnal, they typically travel 3-10km in an evening while hunting.

The original of this image is super-sharp and the colours on my mac screen as stunning. Probably my favorite digiscoping photo of the year. Digiscoped with a Swarovski Optik STM80HD, TLS800 and Canon 5DII.

I have not been able to find any recent evidence of otters in Tirol, with two major populations persisting in Austria: one in the north of the country (Waldviertel, Weinviertel in Upper Austria and Lower Austria), and one in the southeast of the country (Styria, Steiermark).

Map from the Naturschutzbund Niederösterreich report "Zur Situation des Fischotters in Österreich: Verbreitung, Lebensraum, Schutz". Green is where they were found in 2000. Red or orange means they were not found. White means the area was not investigated but unlikely to hold otters.

The two photos here are my favourite of the few digiscoping images I managed to get of the otters in Alpenzoo recently. They were both taken with a Swarovski Optik STM80 HD straight spotting scope, TLS800 digiscoping adapter, and a Canon 5D mark II.

Hopefully one day the otter will make a return to the Alps - I would love to be able to experience this incredible creature in their home environment,
Dale Forbes


eileeninmd said...

Awesome photos of the otters.

NicoleB, Egypt said...

Those are gorgeous photos!
I love Otters!
We have one park in Hungary that still has wild ones.
I saw one once, but only fleeing into the reeds very fast ;)

Carol said...

the first photo of the otter is stunning.


Kelly said...

...I hope they return too. Amazing creatures. I love both of your photos--their faces are just so cute!

Oriol said...

AWESOME!!!! congratulations!!! incredible colours!!!

Chris said...

Hi Dale,
These are two fantastic pictures... I do not know how you do that, I do not think I'll be able to do the same with digiscoping ;-) Great job man!!

Jochen said...

Otters are very incredible creatures, in particular they are very incredibly difficult to see. Otters are reasonably common in the North-east of Germany, where I spent 10 years mapping them. During the entire period, I have seen them on two occasions, and both were less than satisfying. If you want to search for otters, you'd better like investigating mammalian ... well ... droppings.

Larry said...

Absolutely amazing digiscoped images Dale! I love Otters and see the North American River Otter fairly frequently on bird outings.

Your images of these beautiful animals are stunning to say the least. I hope, some day, to get digiscoped images half as good as yours :-)