Sadly last week we said goodbye to Chris Matcham, the SWT Otters and Rivers Project Officer who has retired to his home in Hampshire. Its doubtful whether he will be idle for long though, with a new project proposal in the off-ing. It just means he doesn’t have to drive into work anymore.

Otters have returned to Surrey on Chris’s watch with two records from 2009 on the River Wey in the west of the county. We also know that there are otters on the Eden in Kent, the headwaters of which are in Surrey near to Godstone.

Having stepped into Chris’s shoes (they are mighty big- I might fill them by the time I retire!) i’m going to be out and about this Autumn/ Winter looking for signs of Otters on Surrey’s rivers. I’ll be revisiting the sites with positive records from 2009 and surveying areas of the Eden. With a bit of luck we’ll get a few more records to show the colonization of Surrey is now well underway.

Chris kept a close watch on Surrey’s rivers for water voles although sadly recently all he has found is mink. The most recent records in Surrey are from 2008, again on the Wey, and in Spring of next year, funding permitting, i will be heading out with Tikki Legget from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight WT to visit sites in Surrey and Hants with records from 2004-2008 in the hope of establishing the presence of a breeding population in Surrey. Otherwise we may have to look at a reintroduction further down the line.

I have a lot to look forward too. Watch this space for updates.

 you’d like to learn a bit more about Otters and Water Voles why not book on to this one day MAMMAL SOCIETY COURSE I am running in October next year, at the Winchester City Mill http://www.mammal.org.uk/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.browse&category_id=9&Itemid=219&vmcchk=1&Itemid=219

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