Two otters investigating a monitoring raft.
The Buckingham Otter Spotters group was formed by the Buckingham Community Wildlife Project, in partnership with AVDC Biodiversity officers and Buckingham Town Council in 2008. Since then we have collected a wealth of data about Otters based on observations made by volunteers across the Vale.
The main rivers in the Vale provide the strongholds for Otters, as they hold the best stocks of food (mainly fish, but also crayfish and amphibians). We have been able to confirm over the last two years that Otters are breeding on the Great Ouse, through a combination of volunteer records, river surveys and from the use of a trail camera. This shows the river and adjacent habitats are managed appropriately for this charismatic and shy species. We also have records of Otters on the River Thame, along the Padbury Brook, and interestingly, in more urban watercourses through both Aylesbury and Buckingham.
The flooding of the River Great Ouse in May 2012 highlighted one of the major causes of mortality of Otters in the UK. A female Otter was found dead beside the A422 just outside Buckingham. The stream and culvert under the road was flooded, which forced the Otter to cross over the road, fatally into the path of oncoming traffic. Otter road casualty data is passed on to the Environment Agency and the Otter monitoring project at Cardiff University.
We conduct regular surveys of the River Great Ouse as well as other watercourses and are looking for volunteers to help with surveys for Otters in the Vale. Surveys usually involve walking sections of river looking for signs of Otter presence – and if you’re lucky enough, you may even catch a glimpse of this shy and majestic creature (especially if you’re up early in the morning or late in the evening).
As Otters have potentially large territorial ranges, the evidence they leave behind is usually in the form of footprints or faeces (known as spraint). Other species records we are interested in from along the river bank include Water Voles, Mink and Kingfishers.
We currently working to capture HD video and still images of Otters in Aylesbury Vale to show you these fantastic animals in action – please follow this Youtube link to see our latest uploads. Happy Otter Spotting!
Date Updated: 15/06/12
Recommended external websites
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AVDC Youtube Channel Otter Link