O is for Otter (and for Owl)

Finally returning to my plan of blogging my way through the alphabet, somewhat later than anticipated. I’ve now reached ‘O’, and I have an idea that I should write about otters, although I’m just as interested in owls.

Back when I was a veterinary student, I spent two weeks seeing practice (or in current parlance taking part in extra mural studies) with the State Veterinary Service as it was then. One of our more enjoyable tasks (besides inspecting a cheese factory) was to pay a visit to The Chestnut Centre at Chapel-en-le-Frith in Derbyshire and check on a pair of quarantined giant otters. The otters seemed very happy in their pen, and presumably were about to be even happier once they were released from quarantine, but we felt ‘obliged’ to check on all the other animals, including various other species of otters and a multitude of owls.

Otters and owls have been in the news a lot recently, what with various baby otters being washed away in the floods and then rescued, not to mention this film footage of an otter family in the wild. Meanwhile, the BBC’s Hidden Kingdoms series included footage of a very enterprising burrowing owl.

My closest encounter with an owl was examining a concussed Little Owl (they have an unfortunate habit of sitting on the white lines of roads where insects are easier to spot, but cars are harder to avoid), although I’ve met a fair few tame owls of other species too.


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