So, there's a very good reason why Otters Holt is called what it is. We have otters! Now before you all get excited, and immediately book expecting to see otters cavorting merrily on the lawn - we have never seen them. They are notoriously shy and difficult to see or photograph but there is plenty of evidence that they are here.
We are very lucky to have a stream that borders our land and continues down to a private lake which has a plentiful supply of carp as well as other fish. As far as we can tell, the otters use this stream to travel up and down the valley, much like we would use the a major motorway.
Further up the valley, there is a fishing lake and the owner there frequently see's evidence of the otters in the discarded fish remains that the otters had for supper! Famously, builders working on the barns behind us took a video of the otters playing in the farmyard in broad daylight! (Nope, not remotely jealous at all!)
Our stream is also fed by another a stream from a natural pond, where you can frequently see deer grazing amongst the trees
The woodland around us is also ideal as it gives dense cover and is mostly secluded from people walking through it. It can also provide other food sources that otters eat such as amphibians and small mammals. The South West is an otter hotspot with its clean water supply so its not surprising that here in little old Somerset, we have otters!
But how do we know for certain that we have otters in our stream? Well, you have to look for poo!
Otters mark their territory by leaving their poo or spraint on flat rocks beside a waterway. They will also use this rock to eat their catch and to groom themselves. So along our stream there are a couple of flat rocks that the otters particularly like and we see spraint left there
The above photograph is fresh otter spraint (poo) and we know it was fresh because it wasn't there the day before!
Secondly, you look for otter paw prints in the mud around the rock and along the stream. Otter pawprints have five toes and a large rear pad. Now I can't take credit for the above photo although we have seen prints in the mud along the stream and have taken photos in the past and now of course I can't find the photos! (Life was so much easier when you didn't have 9000 photographs on your phone wasn't it?)
We are now intent on capturing these elusive animals on camera and have purchased a wildlife camera and have trained this on the flat rock where we have seen the spraint. So far we have only captured a rather lovely young male stag but watch this space!