Tales from the riverbank

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Our Ecologist Rachel Falkingham attended a two day course with The Mammal Society learning about riparian mammals.

‘The course, which was based in the Cotswolds, explained how to identify field signs of otters, mink and water vole. It also discussed mitigation techniques used for otters and water voles.¬†The first day involved a morning lecture on the ecology of otters, water voles, mink, water shrews and beavers. In the afternoon our group went out into the field to look for otter, mink and water vole field signs. This involved going to three different sites where a number of otter spraints were found as well as their ¬†feeding remains, along with water vole tracks. We were only slightly put off by inquisitive heifers!

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We also had to opportunity to see beavers at a nearby project! Beavers are nocturnal, so of course we had to wait until after sunset for the beavers to appear. It was just amazing to see beavers in a semi-wild environment. It was hard to believe the changes they had made to the landscape in the short time they had been there.

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On the second day of the course we started with a lecture discussing mammal legislation followed by a session on the range of mitigation techniques used for otters and water voles, when they are threatened by development proposals. In the afternoon we were given three case studies for otters and water voles to discuss and come up with relevant mitigation techniques. It was a very useful course for mammal ecologists.’

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