Wildlife Tours East Devon was started by myself, Sylvie Meller, aka the 'Beaverlady', aka ' The small woman with the big camera'.
Having been brought up by nature-loving parents I was interested in wildlife from an early age.
When my parents upgraded their cameras I was given their old one, so I started combining my 2 big interests,
nature and photography.
Via Germany, Austria and Norway I finally settled in the UK over a decade ago.
When a friend told me about the beavers in the river Otter in Devon I had to come and visit to see them.
My first encounter with Mrs Bob, the beaver mum, was all I needed to be hooked to not just the beavers but the whole area around the river.
Over the years I have seen and learned so much about the local wildlife and I am still amazed how much more there is to be discovered.
From the wildlife in and around the river, like Beavers, Otters, Water shrews, Kingfishers, Dippers, Egrets, Herons, ....
to the nature in the fields and woods beyond where Hares, Cirl buntings, Foxes , Badgers, Deer can be found and
the nearby commons with their famous Dartford warblers and Nightjars.
With the sea and different estuaries there are many waders and water birds around too, Avocets and other visitors during the winter months, Kittiwakes during spring and summer and even Ospreys on their way through.
Not to forget the world of insects with many different and rare butterflies like Marbled White or Clouded Yellow, damsel- and dragonflies - the river is full with blue/green flickering wings of the Banded demoiselles in summer, beetles like Bloody-nosed beetles and Oil beetles, all kind of Ladybirds and Longhorn beetles,
or the plant and mushroom species, with orchids, sundew, and all kind of fungi especially in autumn.
There is nothing better for me than to spend a day out in nature, watching wildlife, becoming one with nature.
I am very keen on not disturbing any animals , so camouflage and the right behaviour is of essence.
My motto ' Behave like a bush, move like a bush, sound like a bush' has got me many laughs from people when I tell them, but some of the most amazing experiences out and about. Plus the odd walker close to a heart attack when they realise only a meter away from me that there is another person....
The beavers brought many nature-loving people into the area who are keen to see them and other wildlife but speaking to a lot of them I realised how little people know about animals.
So beside giving the occasional ad-hoc tour when people started asking questions, I also started leading short trips for local people, bringing them closer to nature, showing them what amazing wildlife there is in front of their door step and what role it plays in the wider environment.
For me it is like watching children at Christmas when I see the faces of nature lovers who see their first beaver swimming by or when they hear some weird sounds in the early morning or evening and are gobsmacked to learn it was an owl or a fox, to see them actively looking for insects in the nettles and grasses after showing them how much life is hidden there.
So why not join me on one of my tours? I can't always guarantee we will see the wildlife you wanted to see but I can guarantee we will always see something of interest and we will have a great time watching the local wildlife and learning some interesting facts about it.
Having become one of the local beaver 'specialists' I have been lucky to have some of my photos and videos in newspaper as well as on TV, like ITV and BBC Springwatch, as well as making an appearance myself on 'Hugh's Wild West', speaking to and advising Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for one of the episodes of his wildlife series, trying to get more people interested in these amazing animals and spreading the 'Beaver-Fever'.