Tuesday, 14 August 2007


An early rise is rewarded by an otter sighting. He is big, probably male, coursing his smooth gliding trail along the shore of the loch, heading out to sea, off to fish for breakfast. Whatever paddling must be going on is invisible beneath the water. There's just this brown cat's head intent on a certain direction. Today he is close enough to see his whiskers, but even at a distance you know it isn't a seal because of the pace and that dead straight certainty. If any doubt remains, it vanishes at the same time the otter does - first the face submerges, the head follows and there's a curve of fluid spine in perfect smooth rotation, and then the giveaway - the sleek rope-tail hooping after the body, one stroke behind the game.

The water smooths its brow. You have just seen an otter and now it's gone, hidden. The guileless surface parrots sky. Then, a little further along the shore, up comes that head again, zipping along, pulling the loch's jacket open behind it, laying everything bare.

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