The Wildlife of Dowdeswell Reservoir

For many years now we have been watching the wildlife of Dowdeswell reservoir. This is the first body of water we were able to visit to watch wildlife and have enjoyed spending time there and keeping records of the wildlife ever since. The reservoir stopped being used commercially and with the water level down the habitat has really changed. Over the years a more extensive reed bed has developed and we have seen some great birds and wildlife.

This page will be for documenting sightings and results from a camera trap we now have set up in the reed bed.

Here are a few of the memorable sightings over the years:

Wilson's Phalarope 30th September 2010



The Camera Trap - Finding out what lives in the reed bed!

After hearing of the sad demise of an Otter on the main A40 a couple of years ago and another more recently, we stepped up our efforts in the hope of finding this apex predator.
Earlier this year I was excited to find some Otter scat on rocks below the top pool and Greg and I decided to set up a camera trap to try and catch the animal in action.

We found a position on the stream that runs into the main reservoir thinking that the Otter would use this as an easy route to and from the water. The camera is motion censored so any movement will trigger it and we have it set up to take 3 photos followed by a 30 second video each time it is triggered. We positioned it in a secure, secluded position a left it to do its job.  We cleared an area and tested the camera to make sure it was covering the area we wanted with a rock as a focal point for wildlife to hopefully stand on!

We have 2 SD cards so we simply leave it for a while and then swap the cards over when we want to check results. The camera then never misses a moment.

The results:-

The first week of action produced a family of Mallard and a smart Grey Heron fishing, but amazingly on only the second week the results were rather more exiting!  After going through more Mallard photos a Rat and the Grey Heron again, some night shots followed. As inland Otters are highly nocturnal these were what we wanted.  First was a blurry photo of an animal’s back followed by an amazing video of a large Otter apparently feeding in the stream! It was a fantastic feeling and we were both delighted that the plan had worked! An Otter had made it in to the reservoir!

Over the following weeks we caught all sorts of interesting footage. On one video a Grass Snake can be seen coming up onto the rock to sun itself and the Grey Heron was a regular, with a Muntjac Deer also making an appearance. Despite finding very fresh scat, a month or so passed without any more Otter sightings and we were a little frustrated.  How was it missing the trap? We decided to move the camera closer to the main reed bed and after a few weeks recorded our second Otter video! A really large, thick set animal, maybe a dog Otter?

We also managed some great photos of a juvenile and adult Water Rail standing on the rock and some nice videos of the adult preening and feeding. Behaviour you rarely get the chance to witness in Water Rails. A Stoat was also a surprise visitor to the same rock along with a Water Shrew and a Fox has also been seen.

We are constantly getting new images and videos and they will be added to this page.