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Evidence of thriving otter population in North Yorkshire river
A WILDLIFE enthusiast has captured evidence of otters thriving in a Yorkshire Dales river.
Photographer Simon Phillpotts finally managed to take pictures of the animals after spending 50 hours staked out on the banks of the River Ure, in Wensleydale.
Mr Phillpotts, from Carperby, near Leyburn, said he set out to capture images of the elusive animals after hearing reports of otters being spotted in the Dale.
“I heard some people had caught glimpses of the animals and began to investigate over time how to get some good pictures,” he said.
The professional photographer visited the river bank up to 20 times, but the animals were usually too far away or quickly ducked under the water.
His persistence eventually paid off, however, and he managed to get close enough on two occasions to take some shots.
He said: “Eventually I had a distant sighting and over the course of several visits started to work out their favourite feeding and resting spots.
“The family consisted of a single youngster and its parents.
The youngster was welldeveloped but noticeably smaller than its mother and father, and I imagined that it had been born in the late winter or early spring. It was still very playful but could hunt by itself.”
The photographer said the otters’ favourite dish appeared to be white-clawed crayfish, although they also ate trout, eels and, occasionally, rabbits.
Mr Phillpotts said he was not entirely happy with the quality of the images and would be returning to take more pictures when the weather allowed.
“Even with a large lens you have to get within five or six metres of the otters to get a sharp image because, more often than not, you just see their small heads above the water, and they have an amazing sense of smell and hearing so it’s not easy,” he said.
Experts from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority say the images of the otters highlight the good quality of the river water.
The Northern Echo this week revealed how the improving water quality had led to a big rise in the number of salmon caught in the Ure.
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