The Annual Spring Otter Survey
2021 Results Summary

The 2021 Spring Otter Survey took place over the weekend of 24th/25th April. The survey was once again affected by the Covid-19 pandemic this year, although nowhere near as severely as in 2020.

Whilst the number of volunteers and patches surveyed was back up to 2019 levels, the fact that we were not able to run any field training events for new volunteers meant that there were still large gaps in the coverage – particularly in the Tees Valley - that we had hoped to be able to fill.

 

For the second year running the weather was fine and dry across the whole survey area. In fact, it was extremely dry and river levels were reported to be very low across the whole survey area. This has pluses and minuses when conducting surveys as it makes looking under bridges easier but finding tracks in hard baked mud and silt is very difficult.

Over the weekend 115 volunteers, or teams of volunteers, managed to survey 124 patches containing 751 sites. This is the highest number of patches/sites checked since the survey started in 2013!

 

Of the 751 sites checked 398 (53%) were positive for otter signs – this is a little down on last year but is a higher percentage than for all other years. A further 10 sites had possible but inconclusive signs. There were 343 sites (46%) which were totally negative – this is a higher percentage than last year but lower than in previous years in line with the above. In total the number of adjudicated otter territories this year was 45.

 

There were again many empty patches (82) due to not being able to take on untrained volunteers, but new patches were also added. It is difficult therefore, even with the large number of patches surveyed, to make direct comparisons with results from previous years. Nevertheless, we can be reasonably confident that the otter population is stable and we are getting new data on activity and movements every time we survey. This all adds to the body of knowledge we are building up.

The full survey report can be accessed via the link at the bottom of this page.

 

2020 Results Summary

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, and the resulting lockdown regulations that have been in place since late March, the eighth Annual Spring Otter Survey took place over the weekend of the 25th/26th April 2020.

It must be said however that this was a slimmed down survey with many volunteer surveyors unable to access all or part of their survey patches or being in isolation and therefore not able to take part at all. The decision to go ahead was taken after much thought and consideration. Most of the training sessions had already taken place by the time lockdown came into effect and all participants were advised that they should only survey within their local area and to do so on foot. As a result, coverage was much patchier than usual and there were some areas that were barely surveyed at all.

Over the weekend 84 volunteers, or teams of volunteers, managed to survey 85 patches containing 456 sites. Of the 456 sites checked 259 (57%) were positive for otter signs – this is a considerably higher percentage than usual and may be due to surveyors reducing the number of sites checked and concentrating on those that are known spraint sites. A further 11 sites had possible but inconclusive signs. There were 186 sites (41%) which were totally negative – this is obviously lower than in previous years in line with the above.

There were 48 Day 2 ‘hits’ (fresh signs) and as usual, many of these ‘hits’ were located close together in the same or neighbouring patches and so have been adjudicated as belonging to a single territory.

                                     We would like to thank ERIC North East for their support of this year's survey from their Small Grants Fund

 

The full survey report can be accessed via the link at the bottom of this page.

Full Survey Results
Click below to download PDFs