Sunday 18 February 2024

Otter close to Oslo

Otter is a species I have seen a number of times in Nordland county either close to our cabin or more often on Værøy. I have often seen them well at some range and on Værøy have occasionally surprised animals at close range and managed acceptable pictures before they have run off. I have only once seen an Otter in the south of the country and that was a complete surprise when one ran over a marsh in the mountains at over 900masl.

Around Oslo there are very few records that I am aware of and most seem to be of tracks or droppings with very few photographed animals and the species does seem to be genuinely very scarce in this part of Norway. Yesterday, a picture of two Otters popped up in my Facebook feed that was on an icy freshwater river with reeds and Whooper Swans which looked very familiar and I wondered if it could be a site I know of close to Oslo. Checking out the profile of the photographer suggested that was the case and further checking online showed that there had been observations from this same site since at least March 2022.

Today then when Jr asked to get some driving practice I hatched a plan to take us there as even if we didn’t see Otter (which seemed very unlikely) it is a good place to see Whooper Swans and Goosander at close range. Well, unlikely things do often happen in the world of birds and animals and amazingly enough the two Otters were quite easy to find and even better they allowed close approach as they hunted for food in the water which they brought up onto the ice. To watch them like this was quite incredible and I assumed that it was a mother and young. I did not think too much over why they were so confiding and was just thankful that they were. Looking at my picture afterwards though has revealed why – the mother seems to be missing both her eyes. In all my pictures there is just pink skin whereas the other animal has “normal” eyes. The same feature is also visible in the other pictures I have found from the same site in both 2022 and 2023 when only a single animal was seen and in 2024 when there have always been two. So, it seems that a blind female has been here for at least 2 years and has thrived enough to be able to raise a single young this year!! I also noticed that it seemed to come up with vegetable matter to eat which strikes me as unusual and might be a result of not being able to see.

I look forward to visiting again in better weather (it was snowing today) so that I can hopefully get better pictures to document this interesting animal.

adult female Otter seemingly lacking eyes

she looks the same in all the pictures I took

here with what looks like a fish

both Otters. mum on the left and the young (with normal eyes) on the right

normal eyes

normal eyes

mum on left

here eating what seems to be vegetation although that may just be a bycatch of something else it is chewing

Goosanders (laksand)

and Whooper Swan (sangsvane)

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