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Water vole and otter survey training course

Course summary


The purpose of water vole and otter survey training course is to provide the knowledge, skills and experience required to survey for water voles and otters in a professional capacity.


Course outcomes


First Ecology will ensure that trainees are able to competently survey for water voles via attainment of criteria recognised by CIEEM.


Course content




  1. conservation status;
  2. distribution;
  3. threats to populations, water vole and otter range and species survival;
  4. water vole and otter ecology, breeding biology and behaviour ;
  5. known ecological requirements;
  6. legal protection;
  7. licensing and permissions;
  8. appropriate survey seasons;
  9. current relevant guidance on survey methods and standards;
  10. survey methods used and the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of these methods;
  11. range of factors that might lead to bias in the survey results, and false negatives;
  12. factors affecting surveying (e.g. current/previous weather, time of day, time of year, habitat characteristics, geographical location);
  13. sources of information on known occurrence and distribution (including NBN Gateway, national surveys, county atlases, local biological/environmental records and local contacts/mammal Groups);
  14. metadata standards / data sharing; and
  15. health and safety issues commonly associated with surveying for water vole and otter


Skills (as theory)


  1. identifying water voles and otters and signs or presence
  2. assessing habitat potential;
  3. determining appropriate spatial scoping for fieldwork;
  4. planning and implementing sound scientific surveys, selecting appropriate survey techniques for any particular situation;
  5. selecting appropriate survey conditions instinctively (current/previous weather, time of day, time of year), using knowledge and experience, and know when to cease surveying as a result of changing conditions;
  6. detecting water voles and otters using visual search (‘spotting’ skills, fieldcraft, identifying and sexing quickly and remotely, minimising disturbance);
  7. recording water voles and otters sightings, photographing, taking notes, recording weather conditions and visit parameters;
  8. analysing and interpreting survey data;
  9. taking appropriate biosecurity precautions and
  10. taking appropriate health and safety precautions


Experience: No previous experience is required and the content is designed to suit a wide range of disciplines including aspiring professional ecologists, planners, local government employees and volunteers.

Note: This training course is a theory based session held within a classroom setting





Callow Rock Offices, Shipham Road, Cheddar, Somerset, BS27 3DQ





Monday 5th June 2017




09:00 – 13:00




£50 (incl. VAT) BOOKING ESSENTIAL: Call 01823 652425 or email

We are very sorry but we are unable to issue refunds if you are unable to attend the water vole survey training course for any reason.




“Can’t be improved…..all very good!”


“Great to get out and see how to do a water vole survey……and thank you for arranging the appearance of a vole swimming in the River Tone”


Enjoyment   😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 (9 reviews)

Knowledge of water voles after training  😀 😀 😀 😀  (9 reviews)