2012 is a difficult year to summarise. Although our main survey in April turned up the usual number of otters, (67), the percentage of “hits” was well down at 22.9%, (average 29.5%), which is the lowest yet except for the disaster year of 2006. Daily recording at Stoford Otter Loo was erratic because of the number of days it was overwhelmed by flood water, but the total was down again, 8.3%, even lower than last year’s very poor total of 14.6%, (average 21.7%). In the dry months in the spring there were low totals as well as in the wetter ones later on. This may of course be a reflection on the health of the stream rather than the otter population on the Tone. Rainfall for the year was about 50 inches, (usual, 29).
Deaths too were low, 21 from Somerset and 6 nearby; the Somerset total is half last year’s enormous score of 44. 16 of ours and 5 of the others made it to Cardiff University for post mortem. Well done all the members who helped .The wet weather made monitoring what goes on along the rivers difficult, but nevertheless we logged 18 litters of cubs sand suspected 5 more. This is not a huge number for our whole county, and of course we do not yet know how many of the cubs have made it through all the spates. Information on this , please.
Mink are still uncommon; I logged 21 records from 15 different locations. However, the Brue valley rafts sent 25 dead mink to Cardiff, so they seem to be thriving in the reed beds, if not along the rivers. The BASC rafts scheme is being extended west, to include the Tone. Records of Polecats were well down, 14 entries for 22 animals, (62 in 2011).
Meanwhile, the rivers remain swollen, and we can only guess how our Otters have fared in these desperate conditions. When the weather pulls itself together, please be very vigilant, and send in your records.