Otter Watch


This is a unique diary of otter sightings on South Walsham Broad from the spring of 2009 to the present. It is recorded by Mundy Ellis, who lives beside the broad. To date there have been around 150 recorded sightings by over 50 different people – 24 of them involving 2, 3 or even 4 otters together and 28 of them recording otters actually on land. To begin at the beginning, scroll all the way down to the bottom...


Thursday 1 March, in the grip of the Beast from the East With the thermometer reading -4C and the wind chill put at -11C, life on South Walsham Broad is tricky both for wildlife and humans. Strangely, the broad isn't frozen over as it has been in other, less severe, cold snaps, though there are large ice flows (about 20% of total area) being driven around by the east wind - often carrying flocks of avian passengers (below). And today I caught a very rare glimpse of three otters together: what looked like one very long otter swimming towards the shelter of the boathouses to the north suddenly seperated into three components! I believe they must have been a couple of very young ones, probably with their Mum, as adults tend to travel alone, and it's females that are more likely to chaperone their younger offspring. I wonder if they have set up home in one of the holiday boathouses, as they did in ours several years ago...

Friday 2 February 2018, with a chilly north wind cutting across the Broad After a couple of glanced sightings since Christmas of a large otter swimming busily across our frontage, today something well worth reporting! I burst into our boathouse by the back (pedestrian) door and was brought up short to see an otter slipping somewhat sheepishly into the water from the corner of the decking only six feet away; I had just enough time to see its graceful curve as it went in with barely a splash, leaving a couple of wet footprints and some lunch. I had the impression that it was quite small – far smaller than our portly Maine Coon cat, for example – so it may be young, though perhaps no longer quite a pup. I wonder if there may be a holt in the ramshackle boathouse next door?

Sunday 24 December 2017, Christmas Eve, mild with some sunshine at last The parish councillor who spotted the big dog otter at Pilson Green pond 10 days ago emailed that "Our otter is on the Pilson Green pond again this morning." He must have left some carp in there especially for Christmas.

Friday 22 December 2017, weather mild, grey and dull Further to last week's report by a South Walsham parish councillor of an otter at Pilson Green pond, my husband returned from the shops at around 11am with some news: "I was driving home along Broad Lane past the pond when, to my astonishment, I saw a large otter running across the road in front of me. It had come from the Wymers Lane side, ran swiftly but not in a panic (I was quite a way back) and disappeared into the ditch on the Marsh Road side of Broad Lane. I’d never seen an otter travelling on land before." Perhaps we need a sign: "Otters crossing"

Monday 18 December 2017 After a quiet weekend, the otter's commuting pattern is reasserted: at 8.20am it goes by just 15 feet from our frontage from right to left (NE to SW, towards the island). Then at 8.23am the Egyptian goose family follows. I resolve to get some good pics!

geese.jpgA note about the Egyptian geese The rather irresponsible pair had a brood of seven or eight goslings at entirely the wrong end of the year, probably due to a mild spell of autumn weather. (They are descended, after all, from decorative imports from African climes that escaped into the wild, left.) The gosling count is now down to three, despite being spoonfed by a platoon of conscripted local residents. They inhabit the staithe by day, where the goslings can waddle on to the land up the slipway, and by night they tend to go NE across our frontage to make landfall at another garden where the bank is low to the water. I do wonder if the otter I've been seeing recently was attracted over to this side of the Broad again by of the goslings - and not in a good way!