What is it?
This picture is of otter spraint and was taken in the Valley lin February 2005, providing positive proof that otters are alive and well and back in the Blackwater Valley again after 45 years.
The return of the otter
In September 2004 we announced that there was evidence of otters returning to the Blackwater Valley. At the time we had found a dead dog otter on a railway line in Frimley, which we guessed had been electrocuted as it crossed the line. It may have been dead but it was the first positive sighting of an otter for years and news we had been
waiting for for a very long time.
Otters disappeared from the South-East in the early 70s and in recent years work has been carried out to try and get them to recolonise their former sites. In the past few years they have returned to both the Rivers Thames and Loddon and, as the Blackwater is a tributary of the Loddon, it was only a question of time before otters would find their way into the Blackwater and start moving upstream. When the dead ottere was found Steve Bailey, Manager of the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership, had this to say:
“This is great news. The river was once in a terrible condition and many organisations have put in a lot of hard work over a long period to return it to a state where it now supports an abundance of wildlife. Otters can only survive in a healthy river system, so the fact that an otter has been found in the Valley indicates the river is ‘complete’ once again.”
Since then Chris Matcham, Rivers & Otters Project Officer at Surrey Wildlife Trust has been searching for further evidence to show that otters are back in the Blackwater. He and a colleague found the otter spraint pictured on the river bank, once again in the Frimley area. This find backs up our original belief that the dead otter was not the only animal to explore the Valley.
Now that otters have been found BVCP and Surrey Wildlife Trust are hoping to receive project funding to assist otter re-colonisation of the Blackwater.