Over the last two weeks, we have captured some wonderful footage of our resident otters! We have a female and two grown-up cubs visiting and their sporadic visits have increased to 4 or 5 visits per week. Often, they are just coming in, sniffing around, sprainting and leaving. They have not been showing much interest in the holt at all.
The river level had risen quite a lot last week and this meant a lovely camera angle as the otters were arriving much closer to the camera. The camera is mounted on a floating platform, to protect it from such rises, and the level must have been close to this platform.
Every now and then you capture a pretty special clip! Most of our otter footage is at night. Occasionally, we capture them in daylight. This has to be one of the best clips we have captured so far….. very exciting!
The otter was not the only mustelid that visits this area either. I also captured footage of start and mink here..
I also filmed this great spotted woodpecker, taking advantage of the nice gradual slope, to have a bath!
This week, the water levels had dropped again, so we were back to the more familiar view at the holt site. Looking through the footage, I was absolutely thrilled to see the female and her cubs were back, this time just before 7am, and they had been hunting! The first clip shows the female with a large, and very wriggly, eel!
The female appears to leave this eel for the growing cubs to tackle. This behaviour is common in predators, where the prey is not killed, but left for the youngsters to learn how to tackle live prey. For much of the time, the family are just off camera and would see an occasional tail or the camera wold wiggle, suggesting they were on the floating platform. Then one appears with the eel and appears to take it into the water, possibly to clean off the dusty soil that was now covering it.
I then captured a series of clips of the young playing with the eel and finally settling down to eat it.
Later in the week, they were back again, this time under darkness….
Such activity on the river has spurred me on to start the otter holt planning in earnest! My aim is to build another artificial holt, this time with cameras inside! This is going to be a considerable advance on the badger sett, as I will have to cope with flooding issues here. It would be very exciting to create a space for these otters, where we could watch them and capture some intimate moments, like we did with the badger sett last week…
I spent the day filming with Sophie and Simon from the BBC Autumnwatch team this week. They have been following my badger sett story and it is planned that they will run the story in the up and coming Autumnwatch series at the end of October.