Otter and Water Vole Surveys

Crestwood has experience in conducting surveys along watercourses including main rivers, brooks, ditches and ponds to determine the presence of otter and / or water vole on a site.

Otter

Our surveys include:

a) Habitat Suitability Assessment; and

b) Presence / Likely Absence Survey.

a) Habitat Suitability Assessment

A visual assessment of the habitat present at a site to determine the level of suitability and connectivity.

b) Presence / Likely Absence Survey

Visual survey of the river and banks will be carried out on foot, allowing a thorough examination of the habitat. Banks will be inspected from both sides where access is possible. Habitat adjacent to a site will also be surveyed. Surveys are undertaken at any time of year.

Evidence of otter activity primarily involves searches for:

  • Holts (otter nests or lairs);
  • Spraints (otter faeces, often found in elevated positions, on large stones, trees fallen across the river, tree roots, bridges, weirs or on grass piles on the bank); and
  • Seals (paw-prints left in mud or silt), runways (pathways across fields, usually at bends in streams or rivers), slides and haul-out places.

Water Vole

Our surveys include:

a) Habitat Suitability Assessment; and

b) Presence / Likely Absence Survey.

a) Habitat Suitability Assessment

A visual assessment of the habitat present at a site to determine the level of suitability and connectivity.

b) Presence / Likely Absence Survey

Visual survey of watercourses, ditches and any significant bodies of water is carried out. Banks are inspected from both sides (where applicable) as well as from the centre of the watercourse, where the water depth allows. Habitat adjacent to a site will also be surveyed.

Two surveys are undertaken one early season (Mid-April to June) and one late season (July to September), conducted at least two months apart.

The water vole survey (following guidance in the Water Vole Conservation Handbook- Edition 3 (2011)), will include searches for:

  • Latrines (regularly used places where faeces are deposited, usually on ledges or prominent mud-banks or prominent mud banks along the waters’ edge);
  • Droppings (individual faeces on pathways or ledges used by the animals); and
  • Feeding stations (areas where food is cut into short lengths and laid side by side on ledges by the waters’ edge), paw-prints, nest holes, tunnels/runways and lawns.

Mitigation and Licensing

Our experienced ecologists can provide Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW) support for habitat disturbance. We can provide European Protected Species (EPS) licence application (in relation to otter only), as well as a licence for water vole to include displacement and translocation. We can also provide mitigation designs, method statements and implementation of habitat creation and enhancement for both otter and water vole.