Otter at Ackworth

I’ve seen mink on the Went at Ackworth School in the past and I’ve recently spent some time trying to get trailcam video, without success. I was very pleased, therefore, to find out earlier today that some of the groundsmen put out a camera before Christmas and managed to get a very exciting set of clips.

The camera recorded the expected mink but it also recorded visits by an otter. It is great to see that otter are now living in Ackworth after being missing for many years because of the effects of persecution and insecticides such as DDT.

You will see that the otter pauses to scent-mark the dark object – probably a broken brick – before entering the river. The fox that visits the same spot also pauses to leave its scent.

Although the distinctive tapering tail of the otter allows us to be sure about identification, it would be nice to get a shot of the otter’s face and this will be the objective in the coming weeks.

Hedgehog Activity

We have seen hedgehogs in the garden recently and I thought it would be a good idea to provide a home for one. Some years ago, I made a hedgehog house using wood. It was a large box with a tunnel for an entrance and it was successful. This time, I went for a much easier and very cheap option.

I found a very large plastic plant pot in the garden and I thought that this would make a good home for a hedgehog if tipped upside down. The only modification needed was the cutting of a hole in the side to provide an entrance. Once this was done, I filled the pot with straw and put it in a corner of the garden. From that day, whenever I did any pruning I used some of the clippings to cover the pot. The clippings would insulate it, preventing the temperature from changing too rapidly. Shrubs would provide shading from the sun during summer. The only expense was for a bag of straw from the local pet-shop.

You might expect hedgehogs to be hibernating in December but it has been mild recently and I had noticed that the straw at the entrance had been disturbed so I put out the trailcam last night. The camera captured video of a hedgehog returning to the house early this morning but there was no film of it leaving earlier in the night, so it must have been moving between residences.