The otter is another native carnivore which until recently looked doomed to extinction. Now due to legal protection and the cleanup of waterways they are on their way back. We know that they are active in the Loch Goil area as we have seen tracks and remnants of shellfish out along the lochside, but as yet we have not been lucky enough to spot one. We think Donich would be a good place as Otters like to den where the fresh water they need to clean their fur meets the salt water of the loch with its rich food supplies.
European Otters are about twice the size of a domestic cat. More than 50% of the population in Scotland live in salt water, making them easier to spot as they tend to be active during the day, and to have a much smaller range and higher population concentration than otters living in fresh water .
The otter is known in Argyll as ‘Beaste Dubh’ which is Gaelic for Black beast. It is closely related to the stoat, weasel and pine marten. The current greatest danger to otters is roads and commercial fishing where they can get caught up in nets and drown.
We’ve seen otters many times in Shetland, but until recently we had not seen one here and were not holding out high hopes, although the lady we bought the house from told us that all the fish in the pool in the garden disappeared over night, and webbed footprints were seen in the mud (ruling out a mink or heron). One morning recently, we were just checking our webcam and saw the footage below.
So there are definitely otters in the Donich, and this one may well visit often (as it was pure happenstance that we caught it on camera on this occasion). It should have done well because at the time there were lots of mating season frogs in the pond.