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On the trail of an otter

Posted: Tuesday 5th December 2017 by DevonWildlifeTrust

Sarah eventually got her otter on cameraSarah eventually got her otter on camera

When Devon Wildlife Trust volunteer Sarah Butcher put up a trail camera she hoped to capture an image of an otter. In the event she got more than she bargained for!

Sarah writes...We first had a report of an otter at my local Devon Wildlife Trust nature reserve, Bystock Pools (near Exmouth), in early May 2017. So I decided to rig up my trail-camera in a likely spot, under a bridge which straddles a small weir at the edge of the reserve's famous reservoir. I then left it there for two months and waited to see what it would catch on camera.

This crow was caught on cameraThe ducklings and their mum were spotted

What I was rewarded with was a range of wildlife: I got woodmice, moorhens, shrews, rats, ducklings and lots of crows, but frustratingly only glimpses of the backside of an otter, appearing every fortnight or so.

Eventually, in September, I retrieved the camera and repositioned it. After spray painting a 5 litre water bottle with matt black paint and attaching the camera to it I placed it under the bridge once more. It was then that I hit the jackpot.

This time it worked brilliantly (especially when camouflaged) although as autumn passed and winter came the camera became more obvious with the die-back of surrounding bracken. In fact it began to be spotted by people, some of whom even stopped to crawl under the bridge and pose for a selfie! 

Human visitors also started to be seen

However, the important thing is that I eventually got exactly the otter photo I wanted (see the top of this page); proof that this elusive animal is a regular visitor to this wonderful nature reserve and not just a one off earlier in the year. 


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