2DAY EVENT UPDATE

The score sheets for the survey have been coming in well; we are about two-thirds complete already.  Please do not delay, as we will be processing them,and working out the statistics in early May.  Early indications are that otters were widespread, but more elusive than in previous years.   Plenty of sites were positive with recent or old work, but there were fewer Hits on day 2, even in places with fresh work on day 1.   So an increase in results in the Near Miss category seems likely. This could just be a result of the dry weather and the low water levels.  However across much of the   Levels the water was very high, as the sluices were  set to keep the rhynes full.

Last year the time of the high tide washed off much of the evidence on the estuarial mud near Bridgwater; this year it was the trampling footprints of all the elver fishermen that made tracking difficult.   I hope it is still OK for this intensive resource exploitation to continue when we read that eels are so reduced in number.  Certainly rod fishermen are not allowed to take even one, yet the elver men weigh in by the kilo.

Top prize so far goes to Ken Burrell, for 4 excellent camera trap snaps of the first otter so recorded on his stream.  Gareth Hoare’s Sheppey otter declined to approach the camera close enough to be snapped, but it was spotted anyway.  Second prize, sadly, to Jillie Leonard, called out to pick up a dead otter outside Dunster Castle, our worst black spot.  A young male that had been sorely wounded in a fight, it appears.  Thanks again to the Dixons who all too frequently have the task of forwarding otters from there into the P-M programme, and to Mike Coleman, who acts as courier.  I think this is the first otter to get into the 2Day Event posthumously.  Query: can we count the one that bit him?

That makes only 4 deaths in Somerset so far this year; last year we had 12 by now.  Is that good news, or bad in that it might be a result of having such a high total last year, and thus fewer otters about this spring?

The Otter Group is very grateful to the W.A.Y. Charitable Trust for another generous sponsorship donation, to enable us to continue our work with Cardiff University Otter Project.  In addition, we are hoping to set up an investigation with Cardiff into the realities of the Angler/Otter conflict, and to look into the effectiveness of the various preventive measures available.  Somerset has a good start on this; we were the first to bring out a booklet for fishery owners, in 2005.  We are being supported by the  Angling Trust in this bid.

On 2nd May, the group has been honoured to be asked to set up a stand and some children’s activities, at a Country Fair to be held on the occasion of the visit of H.M The Queen to Yeovil, as part of her Jubilee tour.  Mary Leizers is organising it for us, and the fair will be open to the public, so we would like to see as many of you as  can make it to the  Yeovil Country Park, with your families and friends.

James W