A PLAYFUL otter made the day for walkers in the Tingwall area last Wednesday.
Andrew Swanston, home from Edinburgh to visit relatives in Tingwall, and his friend John Reid from Laxfirth were walking on the banks at around 3pm when they were startled by something in the wet grass.
Andrew said: “I was about to cross a small dyke when I heard a rustle. I thought it was a rat and nearly jumped out of my skin. I backed away and it just kept coming up to my foot.”
The pair were thrilled when they realised it was an otter but were unprepared for its behaviour.
Andrew continued: “The otter followed us like a cat or dog for at least half an hour.
“I’d seen otters on TV and they had been timid. But this one was so friendly. But I was very apprehensive because I didn’t know if it was going to bite me.
“It was right at my heels, when I ran it ran and when I stopped it stopped. At one point I fell over and had to put my foot up to stop it.”
The otter played and frolicked as Andrew and John “jogged and walked”, and they realised when the creature rolled over that it was a young male.
They took lots of photos and it appeared to show off to the camera when it jumped into a burn to swim.
Although the young otter was not aggressive, Andrew and John found its presence disconcerting because they did not know what it was going to do. Eventually, after a distance of around half a mile, they had to “lose” it by running round a hill.
Andrew said of the experience: “It was bizarre and unreal. But we were really privileged to see it.
I’d only seen one otter before and never one that close. If I hadn’t had the pictures no-one would have believed me.”