PEOPLE found out about the elusive otter at two workshops organised by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Lincolnshire Coastal Grazing Marshes Project.
They learnt how to identify the tell-tale signs not only of the otter but also of the less elusive but rarer water vole whose largest UK population is in the drainage dykes of the grazing marshes.
Although popularly known as ‘water rats, they are not rats at all but rather cute plump bundles of fur. Water vole populations have declined sharply not just in Britain but all over Europe so the Lincolnshire Coastal Grazing Marshes have an important part to play in their survival.
So what are the signs? Poo is the clue – otter ‘spraints’ appear as small piles of black tarry poo that have a strong and distinctive smell that some people have described as resembling Jasmine tea!
As otters are very territorial, these tend to be deposited in strategic places in their territory.
By contrast water vole ‘latrines’ resemble tic-tac sized and shaped poo and are generally greenish-brown as they feed exclusively on waterside vegetation. The sharp teeth of water voles cut through the vegetation at a sharp angle – another sign that these increasingly rare creatures are around.
The workshops held at Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve and the Lindsey Marsh Drainage Board offices in Manby were led by Chris Manning, Mammal Recorder for the Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Union, and attracted 38 people.
If you would like to know about more events coming up in the future, contact the project on 01507 613134 or visit the website at www.lincsmarshes.org.uk.