Tails from the Reedbed: A study of otters at Leighton Moss

Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 2 customer ratings
(2 customer reviews)


Watching from one of the marvellous bird-hides on the reserve, Elaine Prince writes with such wonderful directness and excitement that you feel as though you are in the hide with her, observing females looking after their young ones, revelling in the antics of the otters’ cubs, or witnessing the mating of a particular male otter whose bent tail earned him the nickname ‘Kinky’. Drawings and photographs provide visual portrayals of Elaine’s detailed stories, to create a book that will delight anyone who loves otters and wildlife in general.

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Otters are charismatic and enchanting animals, with universal appeal, but most people will never see one in the wild. Leighton Moss is one of the best places in England to connect with these elusive creatures, although even here it is unusual to see one out of the water. More typical would be a tantalising glimpse of a distant head or tail disappearing into the reedbed.

Yet in this unique and revealing book are mesmerising first-hand accounts of many close and intimate encounters, collected over a decade of almost daily observations.

With fascinating insight and attention to detail, patiently and quietly observing and recording, Elaine Prince follows the fortunes of eight families of otters as they mate, hunt, play and raise their young. The result is this engaging and invaluable volume, which contributes significantly to our knowledge and will delight anyone who loves otters and the natural world.

• A truly unique and captivating book which has already attracted much praise
• Lavishly illustrated with beautiful original drawings, paintings and photos
• Includes observations of other wildlife at Leighton Moss

Author: Elaine Prince
Imprint: Palatine Books
Binding: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-910837-20-7 (PB)
978-1-910837-21-4 (HB)
Extent: 128 pages
Format: 200 x 138mm
Illustrations:60, colour and b&w
Pub. date: 12 April 2019


Additional information

Cover Options

Softback, Hardback

2 reviews for Tails from the Reedbed: A study of otters at Leighton Moss

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    John Wilson, the first warden of Leighton Moss

    With outstanding dedication Elaine relates a wonderful story of her unique observations of that delightful and most sought after resident of Leighton Moss, the otter. She takes us through her 10 year study, from her very first sighting to a wonderful moment when a mother and four cubs appeared. She describes many of her encounters in great detail, with such enthusiasm and obvious love for her subject. Her understanding of otter behaviour is helped by one of the males being recognisable. Her love for her subject shines through, as do her observational and recording skills. A wonderful read for anyone interested in wildlife.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Hans Kruuk, Leading Otter Expert

    For any ornithologist, Leighton Moss is a paradise, known throughout the country. Not just to ornithologists, of course, but for any naturalist it has an unparalleled richness of wildlife, of water, reedbeds and natural open spaces, with lots of places where one can easily watch all this without causing disturbance. It is one of the best places in England to see that elusive symbol of elegant beauty, the otter.

    Elaine Prince has used this unique opportunity offered by Leighton Moss more than anyone else, and here she describes her breathtaking encounters with the animals in lovely detail. She shows how much a visitor can see of the behaviour of the otters by just watching from one of the several marvellous bird-hides on the reserve, and writes about this with such wonderful directness that one sits in the hide with her, taking in the antics of the otters’ cubs, the mating of a particular male otter called ‘Kinky’, a mother looking after the young ones, otters catching eels right in front of one.

    There is something magical about otters, something that makes the animal as popular as it is despite very few people ever seeing it. Even when lucky enough to watch one, rarely do we see the whole animal, usually only the top of a head, a tail, with a stir along the surface. Yet the behaviour is all there and one never tires of the excitement of an otter watch, seeing grace through the ripples, with always something new.

    This little book brings this home through the eyes of an experienced observer, of someone with ultimate patience and who can write about it. It will make one wish to be there in the hide, to experience the wonderful scenery of Leighton Moss with not only otters, but also a bittern, some egrets, a marsh harrier that upsets the ducks. Against all this rich tapestry of birds, it is great to find how much one can learn from these pages about the otters’ behaviour, their mating, looking after cubs, catching eels. A beautiful piece of work!

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