Friday, January 29, 2010

An otterly productive outing

Janet writes: Another Quabbin find from earlier this week. Note the
whitish goop on this spraint mound. Not that I have a tremendous amount
of experience with otter sign, but I have never see this stuff on a
mound. I've seen it just twice, I think, and both times at the mouth of
a den.

But the real excitement of this find is that it was a personal
milestone, of sorts. We were skirting a beaver wetland, hoping for
otter sign, and coming up short, when we looked ahead and saw an open
area at the pond's edge, protected on three sides by brush, and
overhanging vegetation. It somehow looked like a nice place for a mid
sized semi-aquatic mustelid to haul out, so we headed over. And there
is was. Scats, goop, mounds, and rolls.

No more Brownian tracking for us (No reference to David Brown, who is
decidedly unBrownian in his tracking habits)


  1. Congrats on the otter sign, they have certain places where they leave the water just to leave scent for other otters that pass by duting the year. Around here we just call them otter landings, and they make great places to hide a camera. Otter are very smart so you must hide the camera well and wash away your scent by the water.

    It's good to stir through the scat and see what it has been feeding on, fish or mussels and etc, this gives you the information on its travel pattern. They are fantastic swimmers and can cover many miles in one night.

    cliff from game camera photo logbook

  2. I recently came upon a well-used latrine site, complete w/ an assortment of otter deposits in Carlisle

  3. Thanks for your comments, and great find, Tom, with quite a concentration of that disgusting whitish excretion.

    I realize there's nothing all that unusual about finding an otter "landing" (I've been calling them haul outs, but I don't know where I got that). I have seen them before, but in the past, for me, finding them was more of a random walk around a beaver wetland.

    This time, after a brief random search, we were able to scan the area and pinpoint where the otter sign would be, if there was going to be any at all. I personally find it extremely gratifying to be able to do that more and more often, with more and more species. It's a nice feeling of accomplishment.

    The nerdy, obscure reference: Brownian motion is the random movement of particles in a liquid. I was likening that to the random nature of my own tracking habits, at least in the first few years. It has so been nice to feel less and less Brownian, as I gain experience...