Otters on the Tees
Ottercam is hidden in a secret location.
See the wildlife caught on the BBC Look North motion-triggered camera at Saltholme... including a feeding heron, an eel, and baby moorhens! But alas, no otters as of yet!
BBC Tees and BBC Look North set up a motion-triggered camera at Saltholme in an attempt to catch a glimpse of a very elusive otter:
A heron strikes its prey.
You don't have to set up a hidden camera to see herons at Saltholme, but during week two, Ottercam caught a piece of footage of one that took our breath away.
A fiercely efficient predator, the heron enters shot, right in front of our camera, and not once, but twice, spots a fish, poises and strikes, pulling its head back to swallow its meal whole.
A duckling explores the stream
On day five, we were excited to discover that not only had some of the sardines been pulled out from under our rock, but the otter spraint had been disturbed.
Our hopes were high that this was finally our otter. The camera footage revealed a very different culprit though. Our Moorhens were back.
Moorhens pick at our otter bait
In fact, the Moorhen family spent a lot of time on our rock on day five, picking at the sardines which by now smelt pretty pungent.
During the morning, the camera caught our only piece of footage of a moorhen taking off. Don't blink though, or you will miss it. Moorhens can take to the air from a standing start in a fraction of a second.
A moorhen prepares to take flight
This was our most intimate piece of film of the moorhens. The family had spent a lot of time with the chicks wandering far from their parents.
The camera then captured them gathered closely together, pulling a sardine out from beneath our rock.
A moorhen picks up the otter spraint
Our final piece of film from day five was triggered by a full family of ducks; a male, a female and a chain of chicks in tow.
The group moves past the camera in one direction, then back the other way. No otters yet, but Ottercam has already given us an insight into the life of a stream that people rarely see.
A pair of ducks trigger the camera
Day four saw a family of moorhens pass along our stream. These birds are notoriously shy and nervous, so it was a real treat to be able to watch them behaving in such a relaxed manner.
Moorhens, sometimes called marsh hens, are medium-sized water birds of the Rallidae family.
Moorhens explore the water's edge
Less uncommon, but always welcome, a pair of ducks also triggered our camera on day four.
These were mallards, one of the many breeds of duck that can be seen either nesting or passing through Saltholme over the course of the year.
An eel slips back into the water.
In the early hours of day three, the camera captured some fantastic footage of a large eel slipping out of the water onto the rock, near where the team had placed the sardines.
This was encouraging, as eels are a favourite food of otters. With eels this size in the water, we had a good chance of filming an otter.
A dragonfly caught on camera
Day two saw the camera triggered 63 times, most during the night, when the action was captured on infra-red night vision. Most triggers seemed to be insects flying into the sensor.
Cool summer nights bring out lots of insects and the night vision camera caught plenty of activity in the dark.
The trap is set to catch an otter
Nothing on day one, as we suspected. It normally takes two to three days after a camera is installed before the human scent fades enough for otters to return to the area.
Sardines and an otter spraint (dropping) were placed on a flat rock in the water to attract the otters' attention. Otters prefer live prey, but the scent should pique their curiosity.
last updated: 18/06/2009 at 11:49