This morning I left the house with two plans:

  • Plan A: go look for otters.
  • Plan B: hike Spout Path, in case no otters show up.

This ‘otter check’ has been a part of my routine for two weeks now, I did it last year too because around this time of year otters start showing themselves more readily during the day. And since otters like to hang around harbours, that’s where I do my checking:

Harbour - Bay Bulls

Harbour – Bay Bulls

Today I chose Bay Bulls harbour for my otter check, I’ve seen them there before so I knew they might be around. After ten minutes of observation something surfaced in the harbour, not an otter, but a harbour seal:

Harbour Seal - Bay Bulls

Harbour seal – Bay Bulls

The seal kept me amused for a while as it swam back and forth, sometimes coming in close to get a better look at me. As I moved around the docks to explore different angles, a curious head poked up out of a hole right beside me, not an otter, but an American mink:

American Mink - Bay Bulls

American mink – Bay Bulls

Mink are great fun, they show no fear and they don’t mind getting close.

Further out in the bay another shape emerged from the glare on the water, not an otter, but a loon. The big bird wandered into the harbour for one photo but didn’t stick around, it was only interested in diving for fish:

Common Loon - Bay Bulls

Common loon – Bay Bulls

A minute later, another fisher showed up, not an otter, but a belted kingfisher. In case you’re wondering, no I’m not making all this up. This quiet visit to the harbour was more like a trip to the zoo, the only difference being that I didn’t know where the animals would show up.

Belted Kingfisher - Bay Bulls

Belted kingfisher – Bay Bulls

Kingfishers are notoriously nervous, I was happy to get a few shots before it flew off. All this time, the seal was still around, coming closer and closer, maybe it was trying to regain my attention after all the other animals showed up. Anyway, by this time it was too late to start Spout Path and I still hadn’t seen any otters, so I packed up my stuff and drove off to see if could find them elsewhere.

A few smalltown harbours later I reached St. Philip’s, where finally I saw a familiar animal swimming along the dockside, yes, I had finally found my otter:

River Otter - St. Philip's

River otter – St. Philip’s