Ireland is the 20th largest island in the world. Population: 4.5 m. Capital: Dublin. There are 4 provinces: Ulster, Munster, Leinster, Connacht. Land mass: 70280sqm. Longest river: Shannon 386km. Highest mountain: Carrauntoohil 1038m. Official emblem: The Harp. Most popular sport: Gaelic football. Biggest rock band: U2. Most famous brand: Guinness. Sheep population: 5.5m
“The otter is top of the river food chain and are only present in oxygen-rich waters. If otters are present in a river, it is a sign that the whole food chain is there to support them. This is proof of the good water quality of the river. Otters are nocturnal creatures; they know only too well the dangers of appearing in broad daylight, so the casual stroller along the riverbank during daylight hours is unlikely to come across one.
Otters are nocturnal creatures; they know only too well the dangers of appearing in broad daylight, so the casual stroller along the riverbank during daylight hours is unlikely to come across one.What is much more likely to be encountered are otter spraints. These black, tarry droppings smell characteristically of fish and cannot be mistaken for dog droppings once smelt. (A small bit of practice will quickly make the smeller into an expert!) These spraints are used by the otters to mark their territory and are usually deliberately deposited on grassy mounds, large rocks and on ledges under bridges. This informs other otters that they are passing through claimed territory, and, no doubt, they are probably gender specific as well – interested otters will know if a male or female deposited them.
Otters feed almost entirely on fish – and our rivers are rich in fish. They have also been known to eat frogs and rats, but they rarely, if ever, dine on waterbirds, such as waterhens and mallard. The introduction of the course fish roach has improved things for the otter, as both adult and young otters feed upon these.
Otters breed in holts – tunnels in river banks. In order to excavate these successfully they use the roots of riverside trees as scaffolding. Large trees with substantial roots are favoured, such as ash, sycamore and horse chesnut.
There are lots of otters to be seen along War Memorial Gardens on The Liffey in Dublin. Dublin City is unique among the capitals of Europe for providing habitat for a mammal species listed as endangered on the EU Habitats Directive (Annex 2).”
– Éanna Ní Lamhna