Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Volunteer day:
It was a beautiful sunny day on the 19th October as we set out to Bingley, a small town just West of Leeds and Bradford. As we arrived at our destination we loaded ourselves with spades, shovels, hammers, gloves, wood panels and piping and set off down to a remote woodland area near the river.
We began by clearing the area of weeds and any debris left from the recent 2015 floods along the River Aire where we found all sorts of bits and bobs: plant pots, signs and large bags of compost. The soil itself was sandy and unconsolidated making it much easier to work with as we then proceeded to dig 2 separate otter holts located 20m apart from one another. The holes themselves measured 2 metres by 1.5 metres which required a lot more manual labour than was initially expected! Branching off from the holes were entrance and exit tunnels that the otters could use to enter but also escape the holt if any predators tried their luck with breaking and entering.
After a long morning of digging and excavating, it was finally time to lay down the wooden panels that would make the skeleton frame of the holt. Arranged in a square, 1.2m x 1.2m space, the holt was beginning to take shape with clear entrance and exits leading to a spacious living area. Although we didn’t actually see any otters in the wild floating down the river holding hands as they sleep like we’d hoped, we did see evidence of otter activity in the area in the form of tiny little footprints scattered across the mud. This was an encouraging sight as it was evidence that otters are active in the area and would make good use of the holts.
The volunteer day was a great experience and opportunity to help out with the work that the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust are doing to increase species inhabitancy in the area. The holts themselves were constructed with the intention of encouraging otters to recolonise and breed along the River Aire.
If you’d like to find out more about the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the work they are currently doing visit their website at http://www.ywt.org.uk/.