Brecon, Powys: This hungry animal did not so much dive as flow underwater with dolphin ease
Two joggers were running on the opposite bank of the Usk, their loose dogs flushing rabbits that skittered down through willow scrub to the water’s edge. The river ran straight, deep and smooth here, yet to be ruffled by the broad meander 300 metres downstream that would fillet the current over a boulder-strewn bed of pebbles.
Earlier I had sat among woodland in front of the river bend, watching a pair of dippers hop from rock to rock. They bobbed towards the shore, curtseying and giving soft deflated screeches, before one braved a swoop up to its nest in the hollow of an old beech beside the grass mound where I perched. Feeling disturbingly close, I stood up and pressed on upstream, spotting in the middle of the river what I took to be a female mallard, except this bump left a wake, and there is no such thing as a turbo-charged duck. I followed the otter, rising and submerging until it reached the open spot where it would stay to fish for the next quarter of an hour.