Otter pups spotted at South Walsham

A Norfolk village is awash with excitement over news of a second happy event for its VIP residents.

As soon as retired journalist Mundy Ellis began her online journal, Otter Watch, growing numbers of visitors to the South Walsham village website became enthralled by sightings and pictures of the elusive mammal.

Now, more than two years after that first fleeting glimpse, interest has reached a new fever pitch with the sighting of two pups.

Parish council chairman Ken Turner said: 'When Otter Watch began, hits on our website rocketed from 800 to more than 4,000 a month.

'They tailed off recently because there were no more sightings, but we expect a new surge in interest now, with people keeping track of the pups.'

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Mundy, 63, who retired to the village's Fleet Lane with husband Bernard Barnett in 2006, has found neighbours eager to help her in her quest, sharing their own sightings and detective work such as discoveries of half-eaten fish or spraint (otter droppings).

After otters were seen mating in the summer of 2009, her log reported the sight of pups in the spring of 2010 –the first happy event – but the drama took a sad twist later in the year when an apparently injured otter was spotted.

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Photographs were taken of otters on the broad when it iced over during the early part of the winter but sightings tailed off after March.

However, excitement reached fever pitch again at the weekend when villager Sue Hines reported the sighting made by a friend who had been fishing near the entrance to the broad on Friday night.

Mundy's entry for Saturday reads: 'A pair of otter pups has been sighted! Sue H reports that her friend, Andy, returned to the quay at 4.45am after a nap in his vehicle to see what he initially thought was a snake in the water, just by the quay. However, he quickly realised it was two small otters... They were obviously startled by him but did not dive; instead they swam across the river towards the reeds and disappeared.'

Despite keeping watch with her camera all weekend Ms Hines saw nothing more of them.

Until the latest news of the pups, the only recent sighting to satisfy the insatiable appetite of nature lovers came on July 15 when boaters told one of Mundy's neighbours how they had seen an adult otter swim into the entrance of a drainage ditch with a large fish.

Mr Turner said he was confident that the sighting of the new pups would prove quite a draw with visitors and give a welcome boost to village businesses.

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