The second comprehensive catchment wide rapid assessment survey of otter took place on Friday and Saturday of last week (10 & 11 June 2011). In total 85 sites were included in the survey which covered the entire catchment of 650sq Km. The work was undertaken by nine teams, which included two colleagues from Inland Fisheries Ireland, a staff member from the National Parks & Wildlife Service, the MulkearLIFE team and a large number of members from the Mulkear Conservation Volunteers (MCV). The survey work was preceded by training sessions in otter survey methodology and identification in March and June of this year for MCV members.
Evening field training session for MCV members (Image – Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
The survey work was undertaken in near perfect weather conditions on both days. However, in the days preceding the survey, heavy rainfall had resulted in above average rainfall and as a result rivers and streams were in flood in the days before the survey. This resulted in evidence being washed away from several sites where one would normally expect to find significant evidence of otter and mink. This notwithstanding excellent evidence was found in a large number of sites especially in the upper catchment.
Deciphering the evidence: bird, mink and possible otter prints (Image – R. Ó Conchúir)
Deciphering the evidence: otter spraint (Image – Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
Deciphering the evidence: ‘Blood on the Rocks’ (Image – R. Ó Conchúir)
The 85 sites included the following rivers, tributaries and streams: Mulkear, Bilboa, Dead, Newport, Killeengarrif, Clare, Annagh, Reask, Pope’s, Cauteen, Cahernahallia, Dooglasha, Small, Cully, Ahboy and Glaisclluainarbhaoile. Other smaller streams were also included. The vast majority of sites were at bridges. The remaining sites were located along river banks, at weirs, fords, culverts or along drainage channels.
Survey site upper catchment – June 2011 (Image – Glen Wightman)
The full results of the survey will be posted over the next number of days and help guide MulkearLIFE’s work with otter. In particular, the survey findings will help with the continuation of the project’s work in terms of the placement of artificial otter holts and the creation of habitat for otter.
On site survey work, MCV member Catherine Daly (Image – Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
A Big thank you to all who helped in the survey and especially to all members of the Mulkear Conservation Volunteers, who not only attained the otter training during the year, but who gave so generously of their time on Saturday.
On site survey work, MCV member Veronica Walsh (Image – Ruairí Ó Conchúir)
Elaine Keegan (NPWS) engaging with local landowner (Image – Ruairí Ó Conchúir)