The Annual Spring Otter Survey
2023 Results Summary
The 11th Annual Spring Otter Survey took place over the weekend of 22nd/23rd April 2023 and promised to be the biggest yet.
Unfortunately, nobody told the weather which was probably the worst I can remember in all the years the survey has run. This resulted in some volunteers finding it impossible to access some or all of their survey patches. The situation varied across the region with upland areas finding very high water levels on the Saturday but better conditions on the Sunday. In lowland areas the opposite was true with conditions wet but manageable on Saturday, but on Sunday water levels had risen markedly and many sites that had been checked on Day 1 were under water and/or inaccessible on Day 2.
The survey area was enlarged again this year with NT Wallington taking part and filling in some of the gap we had in the north. Volunteer numbers were up on 2022 and even though several people were unable to do their surveys as they couldn’t access their patches, there were still 99 individual or teams of volunteers out surveying over the weekend. Between them they covered 106 patches containing 618 sites.
There were three sightings of otters by surveyors over the weekend, and there were also three trail camera captures.
Of the 618 sites checked 214 (35%) were positive for otter signs – this is a considerable drop on previous years but not particularly surprising given the weather conditions. A further 20 sites had possible, but inconclusive, signs. There were 384 sites (62%) that were totally negative (some sites were reported as negative on one of the days and could not be surveyed on the other due to river levels and have been included in this number). This is higher than in previous years and is again unsurprising due to the conditions. There were 112 unsurveyed patches this year – several of these had been allocated to volunteers but were not accessible over the survey weekend. The total number of adjudicated active otter territories this year was 46.
The full survey report can be accessed via the link below.