Wildlife Conservation Group in the

Forest of Dean


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Members of the Dean Green Team undertook an Otter Watch in the Forest of Dean during the months of September, October and November 2006. We had all attended a course run by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust to explain exactly what we should be looking for in the areas of the Forest of Dean that we have been allocated. The most prominent signs of otters will be their spraint and maybe footprints. On 12th September 2006 the team built 2 otter holts by the stream leading down to Cannop Ponds. Below are some photographs of the otter holts in construction.

Further Otter Watch courses have been run by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust since then and we can share the findings here.

Otter Watch





Update - 8 December 2011

Otter spraint - very fresh, (the stones were frosted and the spraint on top had thawed a patch!) - Cannop Brook near Parkend on 'in channel' rocks downstream of bridge. It is believed that this is where there was a road casualty around 3 weeks ago, so that animal was obviously not the only one in the area.

Otter Spraint - Also fresh at Cannop ponds, 2 locations - One near the dam and also in the marshy reserve area.

Note to all otter surveyors, spraint in the Forest at the moment often contains fish eggs, and can appear a more muddy colour than the usual black. Remember the best way to tell is to give it a sniff!!!

Also report of another possible road casualty near Lydney, awaiting confirmation or more details.


Update - December 2011

Spraint recent  - River Lyd near Co-op in Lydney!
Spraint recent - Westbury Brook - Flaxley
Spraint recent - Soudley Brook and Soudley Ponds
Spraint  ( during the summer) - Cannop Ponds


Otters in Soudley

Otters have returned to the Forest over the past 10 years, with signs being found on most waterways in the district. The Soudley Brook has been showing signs of otter use for some time, however current signs indicate more regular use. The undisturbed nature of the brook itself and the excellent habitat at Soudley Ponds provides plentiful food, cover and potential breeding locations.

However it is not all good news, the outflow from the ponds passes under the road near the entrance to the Heritage Museum, where it flows into the Soudley Brook. The water flows under the road and down a steep drop to join the brook, making it impossible for an otter to use. Recent investigation of this area found clear signs that otter (s?) are regularly leaving the safety of the water and crossing over the road to get from the ponds to the brook.

Whilst it is possible to install an ‘underpass’ under the road for otters and other mammals to use, in the current financial climate this is prohibitively expensive. The county highways department and county ecologist are aware of the need for this and it is possible that something can be done next time there are road works in the area.

However in the meantime if you drive past the Heritage museum between dawn and dusk, Please remember you might not be the only creature on the road!


Update - November 2011

During the summer, three otters were seen at Cannop Ponds. This is near to where we had previously built some otter holts so we hope they are being used. Unfortunately, a dead otter was found on the road not far from Parkend which is just south of Cannop.

Update - October 2008

A member of the Dean Green Team found a dead otter beside the road at Broadoak on 13 October 2008 in the late evening. The otter had been hit by a car and was still warm when found. The Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust were informed of the find. It is sad that otters are so rarely seen and that they become victims of road traffic accidents but, at least, it does confirm that the otters are in the area.

Update - March 2007

There has been a sighting of an otter at the Stenders on the lower stretch of the road near a quarry towards Mitcheldean

Update - January 2007

The Forest of Dean Angling Club have contacted us regarding the Otter Watch with some very useful information concerning otters seen at Steam Mills lake. Below is the report submitted by Nigel Phillips who can be contacted on

Their website is at


'The otter frequents Steam Mills Lake and has been here to my knowledge for approximately one year.

I was clearing the stream that feeds the lake as a participant in one of the work parties that the Forest of Dean Angling Club organise throughout the year. I noticed the paw prints in February 2006 and searched for spraint which I discovered.Soon after we found evidence of fish kills and that that several of the fishing platforms that we installed were being used to open mussels, the shells and small stones being left after the meal!

I believe that 'he' has made his way here from the Wye via the inlet stream that originates from the upper Drybrook/Mitcheldean area.  We had seen mink here on odd occaisons over the last 10 years and thought that perhaps this was the culprit. The Otter has been seen twice but not to my knowledge in the last 3-4 months. The club has a match at Steam Mills this Sunday and I shall both enquire if he has been seen and look for evidence.If I become aware of his presence no doubt it will be of interest to your team. 

The angling club, of which I am a committee member, has been engaged in promoting the biodiversity of the waters under our control and we regularly stock the lakes and maintain the surroundings at our own cost both in time and money. I regard Steam Mills as a huge success, we now see Kingfishers as well as Heron and have a thriving population of Wild Brown Trout that use the feeder stream to breed. Last year I discovered a Badgers sett extremely close by. It may seem strange to the lay person but as anglers I suppose we tend to take these things for granted and without realising do our best to improve the environment for the fish which also has a knock on effect for the general biodiversity of the area.

The club has become a member of the Brown Trout Trust and are actively promoting the Environment Agency Brown Trout Strategy, we are also working with the Agency to promote the biodiversity of the area.' 






Otter holt preparation


Otter holt construction


Otter holt roof building


On 10th October the team built 2 more otter holts by the stream in Foxes Bridge FG/GWT Reserve. Below are some photographs of the otter holts in construction.

Otter holt design


Otter holt construction


Otter holt shrub covering


Otter holt completion