Species Of The Week Number 7: Otter

I have heard rumours of otters in Meanwood Valley. Well, now we know.

Luckily we have an otter expert living in Meanwood, Sylvia Jay, who I was recently introduced to. Sylvia and I met up to talk about otters and also about the Bioblitz, and possible extension of its footprint towards Meanwood Park and beyond. (The plan is to extend it from April next year, particularly if we are successful in getting funding for some equipment such as moth traps, bat detectors and trail cameras.)

Otters are mostly nocturnal and secretive so the best way of confirming their presence is by their spraint - which is the posh name for their poo, and which they use to mark territory. Sylvia had a sample of otter spraint handy (as you do) and so I also got to experience the distinctive smell - which is surprisingly pleasant.

She explained that otters mark their territory on exposed places such as boulders or ledges under bridges. An otter had recently been killed crossing the ring road, so we agreed to survey Meanwood Beck in the New Year to see if the Meanwood otter-rumours still had any substance. (Its unlikely they are living in the valley but they do travel far and wide in search of food.)

A couple of days later, and armed with this new knowledge I was crossing the bridge down past Rollette Cafe on my way to the Urban Farm. I usually stop at the bridge to see if our resident Brown Trout are to be seen below. This time my eyes were taken by a flat boulder forming part of the bridge foundations and, sat on top of it, was a rather encouraging looking 'deposit'. Later that day I scrambled down to collect it. If this was otter spraint it was very recent as the boulder had been completely covered during the recent heavy rain. With a magnifying glass you can make out what looked like small fish bones and scales so I was fairly optimistic, but needed an expert confirmation.

Sylvia was able to give it the thumbs up the next day. So species of this week for this week is very definitely the Otter. Another great reason for looking after this amazing green valley we live in.

Publicado el 09 de noviembre de 2022 por clunym clunym


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