I'm lucky enough to be in a job now that takes me to incredibly beautiful places, and special areas that are a wee bit off the beaten track. And none more so than when I put on my waders.
I recently had to survey a loch. An entire loch, but a third of it had banks so steep that the only way to carry out the survey was from within the water. It was a pretty isolated loch, not many visitors and I was alone. On with the waders. And wading commenced.
The walk/wade took all day. I was there until the light faded (this was several months ago now so we had short days) and I managed half the loch. But oh my, was it an experience!
Otter signs like I've never come across before. It was like otter heaven. Eau de otter did actually haunt me on the way around the loch. I was much quieter than I would normally be, being in water, sometimes up to my waist, and in an unexpected place, and though I never actually saw an otter I have no doubt that it was there for the smell was so strong and some of the spraints so fresh that I cannot see how it couldn't have been there.
It was sunny, and it was a kind of heaven. Otter loch. Dobhran Loch. That's what this place will always be to me, no matter if it is really big loch of the hind. Or something similar. Otter Loch.
The smells an animal leaves behind, the aura, the mysterious something that marks it for this animal. When taking groups out for education purposes I always try and get them to smell a poo. At first they laugh and turn down the offer, but there are always some with whom curiosity gets the better of them, but it's hard to encourage those that don't want to. It's more than just smelling poo, it's more than just trying to get a reaction. It's about getting to know an animal in more ways than one: sight. It's about using our other senses to survey. It's about becoming more animal.
To smell an animal is a privilege as it means we're close. To smell remains such as faeces helps tune our senses so that when we do smell something on the wind, it might, just might, mean that our animal is near.