Protecting otters and bats at Stackpole
Two special animals live at Stackpole, Pembrokeshire. Both were once very rare, but they are now doing well in the rich and protected environment around the Bosherston Lakes.
Stackpole's otter success
In the past, otters were highly secretive, not least because of the shooting and gamekeeping activities on the estate. In recent years they have become much more confident, and you stand a good chance of seeing one in daytime, especially in the Eastern Arm.
Otters eat fish and catch their prey during long dives. You can sometimes follow their movements underwater by the trails of bubbles and ripple marks on the surface. Their favourite fish is eel.
If you're lucky enough to be on the bridge when an otter has caught a fish you can hear them scrunching it up below you. They'll also take freshwater mussels.
Otter droppings, known as ‘spraints’, are left in conspicuous places around the lake shores. These have an oily texture and a distinctively fishy smell.
They breed in holts or dens close to the water, but also have favourite places to lie up around the water's edge.
Look for otters, and signs of otters, around the lakes and on the bridges.
A home for bats
Greater Horseshoe bats are one of at least nine species of bat living at Stackpole.
Lots of our bats make use of the many old buildings around the estate to sleep, breed and hibernate, and the rare Greater Horseshoes live in the roof of the former Stable Block (now the Courtyard Flats).
They emerge at dusk to hunt in the surrounding woodlands, eating flying insects up to the size of cockchafer beetles and large moths.
Radio tracking has shown that individuals may travel several miles to feed, but they depend on continuous cover from trees and hedgerows, so the way the surrounding countryside is managed is of great importance to them.
Stackpole supports the largest colony of Greater Horseshoe bats in Wales.
Ask about the guided bat walks which take place on the Estate, where we'll point out the location of the bats