Buckden area, November 2020

We are pleased to have received this new Otter sighting in the valley, this time during the day and with vocals! Celia Woolley describes the experience as ‘a day I will never forget’, and we can see why. This is her story.

The weather in the morning was a little overcast but dry, although pretty muddy and slippery underfoot with the rain from previous days. I decided I would turn around after a couple of miles walking along the riverbank and head back to the car. I then heard something quite unusual on the opposite bank of the river, which seemed to be coming from a row of trees. It was a very loud and continuous, nearly ear-piercing, screeching sound. I have never heard anything like it before. I stood for a few moments staring at the trees thinking there must be a rare bird, maybe an owl, sitting on one of the branches. My brother is a keen ornithologist so I took a video on my phone of the trees, just for the sound, and thought I would send it to him later for him for identification of this ‘rare, elusive bird’! (VIDEO 1) As I finished the short video the noise was getting even louder and seemed to be moving slowly. I stood for a few more minutes just staring at the trees, but the sound seemed to be travelling too slowly for a bird. Then I caught sight of something moving in the water, just along the edge of the reeds. At first I wasn’t sure what it was, but then it dawned on me - it was an Otter - and, as it swam, it was making the ear-piercing noise. Quickly getting my phone out again I managed to video it swimming near the reeds (VIDEO 2), and then across the river to a creek under a footbridge (VIDEO 3). For a couple of minutes I could still hear the screeching noise in the distance as the Otter disappeared out of sight.

I have researched Otters since my sighting and the sound it was making was an alarm call. It was possibly a juvenile otter who had strayed, maybe calling to its parents. Back in September I spoke to a couple of fishermen, about a mile away from my sighting, who had seen an adult Otter with three cubs swimming across the river. Maybe my sighting was one of this family?

In the past the Otter has nearly disappeared from the rivers and waterways of England, but thankfully populations have been increasing over the last few years, mainly due to huge efforts to improve water quality. As I watched the elusive Otter swimming across the river, with a newly built road bridge and wind turbines in the background, it made me feel positive that we can still live alongside nature and enjoy its outstanding beauty. We just need to take care of our surroundings so wildlife can flourish for us all to enjoy.

Video 1 Video 3
 Video 1 - click on image to play  Video 2 - click on image to play  Video 3 - click on image to play

Celia Woolley

Thank you Celia for this brilliant sighting and your accurate recording of it.