Endoscopy and the living otter holt.

Sunrise: 06.07 Sunset: 06.25

I took an endoscope to the marsh with me today; it uses WiFi to send still and video images to my iPhone. My plan was to feed the 8 mm diameter snake (a meter long flexible tube with a camera and a six LED spotlight squeezed into its business end) through the side of the living otter holt and on into the living chamber. It wasn’t long before I was regretting not having fitted a small bore plastic tube through the side of the holt first.

I painstakingly worked the snake through the mass of soil and willow weaving, towards the pitch darkness of the living chamber. A pair of eyes suddenly appeared on my iphone screen! Unfortunately, the animal they belonged to wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to identify it. . . .


Log-pile Otter Holt.

Sunrise: 06.35 Sunset: 06.04

Mike Averill and I started a new otter holt project yesterday afternoon, at the junction of Hoo Brook and the River Stour.

Unlike the palatial otter stately home we built a quarter-mile downstream, this is to be a peasant’s dwelling in comparison.

Two and a half leisurely hours is all it took to erect the walls of this log-pile holt; another half day will see the roof on and the build finished.

Three months from now, this area will be covered in 7 to 8 feet high vegetation – mainly Himalayan balsam.

Three watercourses flow past this holt: the canal, the River Stour, and Hoo Brook. The straight grass line three-quarters of the way up the image, is the canal.


Log-pile Otter Holt.

Ottering Continuation.

Sunrise: 07.55  Sunset: 04.00

I visited the area of the otter holt, and the well-worn track from the river through the south pool today. I couldn’t find otter prints – plenty of fox prints, though – but I did find an otter run through the grass: one going out towards the holt, and another along side coming back.

Otter run through the grass.

Otter run through the grass.


Sunrise: 07.48  Sunset: 04.04

I noticed a well-worn track leading to and through the south pool the other day. It was a cold morning with thin ice-covered standing water. The track narrowed on its way back to the river. The image shows a single track splitting in two. The left branch leads to a flooded wood, and the right crosses the pool to join the main vehicular track to the Reserve entrance.

The widest part of the trackway, at the bottom of the image, is covered by a mass of animal footprints. The most obvious are those of the south marsh fox and muntjac deer. However, in the confusion of imprints are two belonging to an otter.

The thin ice is continuously shattered along left hand branch. The two otter imprints lead to the pool, but none return to the river. I reckon the otter had climbed out of the river and made its way to the flooded wood not long before I arrived. There’s a man-made holt in the direction the otter travelled.

The otter might have been on its way home to the artificial holt, or perhaps it was hunting in the wood. . . .

photo (2)

What? Me? You talkin’ to me?

22nd May 2012:  Today has been hot. I went to the marsh with my 7D and Sigma lens slung over my shoulder. I couldn’t face the heat with a rucksack full of equipment on my back. I didn’t have a plan. It’s not a good idea to go down the marsh without a plan. I inevitably end up walking about aimlessly, and this is exactly what I did.

At the back of my mind, I suppose, I was thinking that I might formulate a plan on the hoof; this Rarely works! Croosing Wilden Lane, I had an idea: I might try my luck with the badgers, but my heart wasn’t in it. I had changed my mind before I reached the setts. It was just too hot to be sitting about in the Himalayan balsam waiting for a badger to show. Anyway, I think the badgers have moved to their summer setts.

I went to North Pond instead; maybe I might get another owl image. There weren’t any owls in the North Pond trees, at least none that I could see. This is where I photographed the squirrel.

Two days of sun has certainly brought the flowers out, and I didn’t have my macro camera with me. I made a mental note of blooms I saw in the corridor to the tenant farmer’s field, but forgot them breturned arrived back home.

I nearly forgot! I was standing behind the north pasture fence along the river and saw an otter with a fish in its mouth trying to climb onto the bank. It saw me almost at the same time I saw it and immediately fell backwards into the water.