Otters and brash piles

Otters and brash piles

Otters are one of our most beautiful native mammals. They are predominantly nocturnal creatures, feeding mainly on fish and usually live around seven years. They were quite common in Britain up until the 1950s, after which point their numbers started to decline quite rapidly due to the use of agricultural pesticides and habitat loss. Currently, otter numbers are recovering and they are thought to be present in 85% of Welsh rivers.

Otters have a wide territory range. The female otter will choose a secluded 'natal holt' (breeding den) to give birth to her cubs (usually 1-3) this is often away from the main river and must be completely undisturbed. Otters also have many resting-places in their territory, hidden places along the river and also on the ground amongst scrub and bramble. In our woodland, we have seen a male Otter emerging from a brash pile, which we think he was using as a resting place.

In our wood we have thinned some of the trees for various reasons: to allow natural regeneration of broadleaf trees, to bring light to the woodland floor, and to encourage more diversity (such as butterflies, wild flowers and insects). Once a tree has been felled and the main trunk has been used, the unwanted brash (usually the thin side branches) which is left over can be made into piles. We have made several brash piles and these attract various different creatures: some birds will nest amongst them, such as Wrens and also mammals make use of them, including small rodents and sometimes even Otters!

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[…] Brashing  This is a forester’s term meaning to cut off side branches, usually from conifer trees with the intention of reducing fire risk, improving timber quality and enabling people to walk through conifer plantations making assessment of tree growth, etc easier.  Brash piles also give shelter to wildlife.  See http://www.woodlands.co.uk/blog/wildlife/otters-and-brash-piles/ […]

Just found this site
which might interest – they also to arrange ‘otter trips’, and have an ‘ottercam’.


26 August, 2007

Hi Richard,

Take a look at: http://www.ottertrust.org.uk/. Their Otter conservation project has obviously been very successful. The Environment Agency has some useful links here:

As for owls, http://www.owlpages.com/links.php?cat=Owls-Conservation looks as though it might be a good starting point


31 July, 2007

I am seriously considering buying a wood in Scotland am very interested in the preservation of otters and owls which are in danger of disappearing from our landscape and it would be appreciated if any information of the well being and husbandary of these species could sent Thankyou for your time towards this matter and in anticipation await your reply. Yours Aye Richard O.

Richard Oglesby

18 July, 2007