Dorset Wildlife Trust has released extraordinary pictures of a coastal otter, illustrating the dramatic change in fortunes for this supreme predator. Photographer Jeremy Jeffery, visiting from Kent, was able to capture these images in broad daylight at West Bay in Dorset.
Why is this sighting so important?
Dr Rachel Janes, Rivers and Wetlands Conservation Officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “This is the sort of photo you might expect from Scotland or the Northern Isles but it shows how well otters are doing in Dorset now. They are present on all our river catchments and they are also very happy to hunt along the coast.”
Otters have made a triumphant comeback in Dorset since the bleak days of near extinction in the county. In the 1970s only 1% of sites showed evidence of otters, due to a lethal combination of hunting and pesticides. Since the banning of both, as well as improvements in water quality and bankside management, this top river predator is now doing well right across the county. Dorset Wildlife Trust is receiving more daytime sightings than ever before, through its affiliated Dorset Otter Group of volunteer ‘otter spotters’, whose regular surveys have tracked the steady increase in numbers and range of otters.
Dr Janes added: “While great improvements have been made to our river habitats, there is still work to be done to benefit the full range of river and coastal wildlife. We are working with our Dorset Wild Rivers partners to restore chalk stream habitat around the county, with help from fishermen, landowners and community groups. On the coast, volunteers are helping us with surveys on beaches and underwater. We can all celebrate this good news for otters and play our part in keeping our precious habitats in good shape for all wildlife.“
How can I get involved?
You can help Dorset Wildlife Trust clear invasive Himalayan Balsam from river banks in west Dorset on 4th, 5th, 18th or 19th of June. Meet at DWT’s Pound Cottage, Kingcombe at 10am. For more information contact Sarah Williams on 01305 264620.
To help with surveying your local seashore with Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Welly Zone project, contact Julie Hatcher on 01929 481044. 17th July Volunteer training in Weymouth & Portland.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Nicky Hoar at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
The reason why this has not been achieved before is the difficulty in filming a buzzard nest. It took months of planning - starting before Christmas 2010. Although quite common now, buzzards don’t necessarily use the same nest site every year and usually have several nest sites to choose from (with old nests still in them). The cameras had to be set up on several trees in two separate locations (involving climbing incredibly high and dangerous trees and dangling on ropes to put in the cameras). Luckily the buzzard pair picked one of the camera trees! Another difficulty was setting up a wireless connection to a central unit so that the pictures could be broadcast live online, requiring external batteries that need to be changed on a regular basis. Dorset Wildlife Trust is pleased to acknowledge this great achievement by Jason Fathers of Wildlife Windows and thank him for his persistence.
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The Wildlife Trusts (TWT) www.wildlifetrusts.org
There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK and the Isle of Man and Alderney. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.