While walking along the River Tern on Tuesday 4th March 2014, I was elated to experience the all too rare sighting of an otter swimming from the right hand bank towards me and the base of a tree growing at the water’s edge. This obviously provided a place of safety where the otter could hide until the coast was clear. To put this sighting into perspective, the wind was blowing towards me as it was when I saw a pair of otters swimming and diving for fish with their backs towards me in a part of the river at least half a mile away from this sighting. This magical experience happened six-and-a-half years ago, which rather proves the point of how rare and unique it is.
Continuing westwards, I came to an area where numerous branches had been blown off various trees by the prolonged gales of the past few weeks. I was intrigued by how cattle had been both sheltering from cold winds in the valley and also stripping the bark from certain branches as an addition to their diet.
When I reached the river along the bottom pasture, I was delighted to see that a pair of swans had returned after a long absence this winter.
As I continued towards and beyond the boardwalk, there were several examples of early dandelions and also lesser celandines, which are some of the first wild flowers of spring to appear. Their bright yellow colour prompted William Wordsworth to write a poem praising the flower as shining “bright as the sun himself”.
Right at the far end of the trail, near to the river, I came across an elder tree which had been blown over into an adjoining tree with double trunks and was lying at an angle of forty-five degrees in an apparently safe position.
Every walk along the nature trail always provides a unique experience. Be prepared for the unexpected!
David Proctor, Shareholder and regular Fordhall wildlife spotter and volunteer
This article was first featured in the Spring 2023 edition of the Grazer magazine. For more info and to subscribe, visit: