A local photographer scored something of a double whammy last week - not only getting some superb pictures of an otter on the Bann but also catching it on film while it was enjoying a ‘rare delicacy’ for breakfast.
Alistair Prentice has been photographing wildlife for some years and has recently made it his mission to capture an image of an otter spotted on the Bann.
Explaining how he got his pictures, Alistair said, “Otters that live in rivers and lakes tend to be completely nocturnal, described as being crepuscular – activity peaks at dusk and dawn.
“Foraging at night or in ‘muddy’ water is aided by their highly sensitive whiskers, which detect their prey items.
“In recent years there appears to be a trend in day time otter activity - this may be due to huge leaps in conservation - otters have been seen playing, hunting and even mating during the day hours in England and it appears the same is true as these photos prove in Northern Ireland.
“But hunting during the day is a wonderful thing to witness and any walkers-by along the Bann should keep an eagle eye open for a rare glimpse of this wonderful animal.
“I have been waiting patiently many mornings for these intimate photos and feel privileged to have been afforded such close views with my special camera equipment.
“Another fantastic thing about this otter’s recent appearance is its primary target. A lot of roach and other coarse fish shoal up around this time around the Bann Bridge, but on my trips to capture the animal it seems to be catching a lot of eels.
“As a keen angler myself I can assure you that catching an eel is rare thing indeed. What better evidence does one need of a thriving, healthy river than otters and eels!
“I have been photographing wildlife in Portadown mainly around the River Bann system for many years and people that stop me by on the towpath around Portadown are always amazed at the things that I have captured but I always say the same thing. If you can try and get up that little bit early you might just be fortunate to see these things.
“I’ve captured the kingfisher, owls and other elusive animals but the otter is very special to me indeed.”
And as for the otter’s catch the Irish Wildlife Trust confirmed to Alistair the otter is seen eating a River Lamprey.
That species came 200 million years before dinosaurs and is the food eaten in the banquets on ‘Game of Thrones’.
Now it’s evidently swimming in the River Bann in Portadown.