By mollyblobs


Once again I ended up going for a walk just before sunset. Ferry Meadows was handy, but for a change I decided to walk out along Gunwade Lake. The wind was bitter and I nearly turned back but something kept me going. I stopped briefly to photograph some alder cones against the glowing orange sunset - as I moved on a couple stopped me to say that they'd just seen some otters from the next bridge.

After thanking them, I strode swiftly onwards, but by the time I arrived there was no sign of the otters. I watched a heron fishing at the water's margin, and a kingfisher flew low over my head, but still no otters. For some reason I decided to walk on a little further, and then stopped by a small bay filled with reed sweet grass. There was very little light but I could hear splashing among the vegetation, and soon realised that a family of otters was busy foraging just a few metres away from me. 

In the half-light it was difficult to count them, especially as they scarcely stopped moving - there was at least one adult and possibly four kits - younger than the ones I saw last year. I was standing in full view of them, but they were not at all bothered - several of the youngsters took a good look at me, and I managed to catch this one with his tongue out!

Eventually they moved on and I started walking slowly back to the car. As I meandered the sky was suffused with warm orange, and Venus shone brightly over the western horizon - John Clare's 'Shepherd's Lamp' (see extra) - a perfect winter dusk. 

My short walk gave me two awe-inspiring natural encounters - completely dispelling the mild case of winter blues that had encircled me this morning. This fits in with the growing body of research that suggests experiencing awe may lead to a wide range of benefits, from happiness and health to more unexpected benefits such as generosity, humility, and critical thinking. And there are so many awe-inspiring experiences all around, if you just take the time to look and be in the moment.

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