Spring otter survey, Snowdonia National Park (2013)

First things first: MISE Project are AWESOME, get involved !

OK, now that’s done, let’s talk about otter survey !  MISE Project wanted to organise otter survey of the entire Dwyryd catchment, and they wanted it all done over one weekend.  Impossible, you may think ?  Nope.  It might have had something to do with the free accommodation being offered at Trawsfynydd Holiday Village (very nice, by the way), or perhaps organiser Ceri’s winning smile, but 40, yes, forty people arrived ready to muck in. Fantastic !  It was hard work clambering around giant boulders and through brambly woodland, but all worth it to find literally hundreds of otter spraint between us and see fresh footprints and feeding remains.

All the spraint is being sent to Waterford Institute for DNA analysis, as it is hoped we will be able to distinguish individual otters and be able to learn more about their ecology and distribution within the catchment.  The received wisdom is that otters have a large territory size, with male territories overlapping with the territories of several females (much like domestic cats), but previous DNA work on the Lleyn Peninsula has revealed quite a different picture, with some sites providing spraint evidence of the presence of numerous different individuals.  So I’ll be really excited to see the results.

In the meantime, come join in with MISE Project’s volunteer survey work, you will be transmogrified into one of the cool people, viz:

Photo courtesy Kevin Williamson

Yes that is otter poo he is sniffing.  Pretty cool by ecological standards !

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