Although shy and elusive, otters thrive in Scotland and are often seen along the River Almond. During the construction of the Howden Weir Rock Ramp, the contractors often saw the resident local otters and plenty of signs were found by the team, especially towards the end of development as the otters reclaimed the river as their own. To mark this, the RiverLife team wanted to organise an event to show participants how to spot otter signs. The morning began sunny and dry, and luckily none of the otter signs we were searching for had been washed away after the heavy and persistent rain earlier in the week.
After an initial introduction to the lives of otters and a description on how their reaction to the rock ramp development had been recorded, Jo, assisted by Jack and Jacquelyn, led the walk along the southern bank from the rock ramp to the Rugby Club Weir Bypass Channel with 10 enthusiastic otter spotters. Stopping at several points, the group identified otter spraint, and learned how to tell it apart from mink and other animals. We also pinpointed suitable resting sites, possible holt sites, as well as runs and places where footprints and claw marks might be found.
The event was a success and I think everyone will be putting their new otter survey skills to the test next time they visit the River Almond.