Otter Watch on Exmoor
I am writing this on an early morning ‘Otter Watch’ at a hide locally to my home and reflecting on a recent two-day visit to The White Horse Inn. At the River Exe next to the hotel, locals have seen Otters and I was hoping to see them myself. No show when I was looking but no disappointment, there is always the anticipation of ‘next time’. Having put in many hours alongside my wildlife watching colleagues back home and even with a log-book to advise best time of day to see resident Otters, it becomes an interest and passion. During my two day stay with a good deal of sunshine it was lovely to sit outside the hotel with a coffee watching the river and the workings of the busy village life and through-traffic. Having decided to not use the car for the duration I took a couple of walks around Exford and a favourite one of mine is from the village car park along the River Exe to Court Farm, where I often see at least one Dipper. Then over the bridge and right uphill and right again downhill back to the hotel. It was so pleasing to see snowdrops almost all of the way which was mostly down to a local lady, who told me she had planted many of them over time.
My second walk called for wellies. On the road from the hotel towards Simonsbath is a sign to Edgcot, up a wooden ladder and stile on the right. Horses use this area and with the recent rain you have to pick your way but it’s worth the effort for the views down towards Edgcot and the small birds seen along the way. Follow on through the narrow path, then a tricky descent down to a wooden footbridge. The walk now is across an open meadow where a couple of cock pheasants were having a stand-off. Heading to the opposite side and over a small wooden bridge, the road to the right goes down to the village park where I heard the beautiful notes of a Song Thrush. Along the way were small birds enjoying the sunny afternoon. Robins, Blackbird, Coal Tits, Blue Tits, Wren and many more Snowdrops.
With days lighter longer, birds will be starting to nest amongst the bright acid green buds of trees and hedges. The woods will fill with the Primroses, Wild Garlic and Bluebells of Spring.
Sherryl Woods ……………………2 March 2016