This body of water is called the Otter Holt Pond. A lot happens here, even though most of its surface is choked by willow and alder scrub. Large oak trees grow along its water’s edge, providing homes for squirrels, woodpeckers, tawny, barn and little owls, bees, hornets, and many other assorted insects. Nightingales sing from nearby bushes and trees to other nightingales on the Island over the river. Apart from the otter holt being on its water’s edge, this is also where the marsh vixen has a lie-up. Otter couches are found under the oak tree roots, in nooks and crannies along the water’s edges, under logs, and beneath the insect hotel. Ducks, moorhens, and coots like it here because they can quickly disappear into the bulrushes and hide amongst the thick scrub.

Deer, badgers, and the marsh foxes regularly drink from the scrapes. The foxes creep through its shallow parts, hoping to pick up a duck, moorhen, or coot; I’ve not seen any evidence that they have succeeded.

The deeper North Pond, fed by spring water from the Swamp, runs into the Otter Holt Pond; both ponds are part of an extensive linear water feature known as “The Scrapes.” North Pond is a significant annual breeding pond for many hundreds of common toads during the second half of March. Herons fish the Scrapes for pike, eels, and other fish that become trapped here when floodwaters recede. Water from the Swamp springs flows through North Pond, Otter Holt pond, and the Scrapes before escaping over a small log dam into the River Stour.

The Scrapes area is of significant wildlife importance, which is why I am calling for volunteers to help out on the marsh this winter. Although I try to keep the ground around the Scrapes as wild as practicable, there are times when I need to remove scrub here to prevent the whole area from turning into dense woodland. Covid-19 restrictions have prevented me from running volunteer work parties for most of this year, so I need to get a move on before the start of next year’s growing season.

Otter Holt Pond and the Scrapes.

Otter Holt Pond and the Scrapes.


  1. If I wasn’t living at the other end of the earth I would find it interesting to participate. You paint a wonderful picture here of the interconnected nature of life in this area – a testament to your keen observation skills.

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