We have been getting some great Bushnell footage from the otter holt at Yew View. After the last flood that meant we lost two trail cams and the holt disappeared, I was not sure that the otters would return. As soon as the levels dropped right down again, I set the trail cam to see if they had returned.
This week, once I got to the site, I collected the SD card straight away and realised that the otters had, indeed, returned! I would imagine that they have several holts around the area and may be they move around depending on the river conditions. We don’t know where the chamber is on this artificial holt, but the tunnel does appear to rise so maybe the chamber remains relatively dry during these raised river level periods.
The Bushnell footage showed the female and 2 cubs in and out fairly regularly..
This clip shows seem nesting material being, rather unsuccessfully, brought to the holt ..
… and something else… not quite sure what this is she is bringing in…
Once I had seen this footage, I knew we had to try to get a wired camera down to the site. The Bushnells are great, but we miss footage and it is not always as good an image as I would like. The wired HD cameras would give us a clearer idea of how the holt was being used.
With the volatile nature of the river and the speed at which it can rise, I needed to devise a system where the camera could easily be removed to safety. The wired cameras are usually screwed into a post as they come on a bracket. Using a wooden post and a piece of drain pipe, I created a ‘drop-in’ holder for the camera bracket. This would hold the camera securely, but would allow us to lift the camera out in an emergency!
I ran a long cable from the River hub box to the river bank. Wiring it all up, I checked everything was working before I made my way to the river bank. I obviously don’t want to be around the holt any more than a few minutes and, within no time at all, the camera was in place and I was back in the garden, checking the image. It all looked good and I was very excited about the potential footage we could capture.
This camera is wired back to the office and this means that the camera will be recording 24-7. We will not miss any activity at this site. I also have the Bushnell there as well.
Using the iCatcher Console, I can access this camera via my phone app. It means I can check all the Yew View cameras even when I am at home in Lichfield!
After setting up and returning home, the first thing I did the next morning was to check my phone… we had otters!!
Whereas I can see basic footage on my phone, I need to be at Yew View to lift the footage… unless David is at home and he can do it for me! I couldn’t wait to see the clips, so David lifted the footage and we waited the excruciating long time it takes for the low speed Internet to send the footage to me!
It was worth the wait…. the last few days and nights has provided us with the very best otter footage we have captured to date. What is particularly interesting is that we are filming a purely wild holt. The interactions between the female and her grown-up cubs, the collecting of nesting material and then the arrival of a male, who appears to be in the holt with these cubs and the female raises a lot of questions in my mind. I will be doing some otter research in the coming weeks as I want to find out more about otter family life!
The first clip shows the female and cubs returning to the holt…. and then, a little later, re-emerging…. all in daylight!
Make sure you WATCH THESE CLIPS IN HD!
Then, on the 30th, we captured interesting clips showing, what is clearly, the dog otter. He is huge! His thicker set body and muscular form indicates his heath and condition. What I found interesting from these clips is that he is in the holt with these cubs. These are obviously his cubs, but I was unaware of the males being part of the family group like this. One clip shows the female having a bit of a snarl at him, so may be she is not so keen on the arrangement!
We are obviously hoping that this family stay around! Next week, I will be turning the Bushnell around so it films them going back into the river. I love the sounds of their splashing on the clips and it would be good to see them emerging and returning to the river. Luckily, they always seem to come via the same route.
It is so special to be able to monitor and observe a wild holt such as this. I hope we can share some more footage over the coming weeks…