It’s a little otter this winter!
A SHY mammal has finally made a grand appearance at Lancashire’s youngest nature reserve, after teasing wildlife spotters for four years.
Three otters were photographed swimming at Brockholes by volunteer Helen Earnshaw.
There have been a number of sightings of a single otter in lakes around the Preston reserve over the past couple of years, but now there is proof that this wonderful mammal is adding to visitor numbers.
Brockholes spokesman Sarah Leach said: “We were all amazed to see Helen’s pictures of the otters. We have had a number of reports of sightings over recent years but capturing one on camera has proved difficult. To see three together, clearly enjoying themselves at Brockholes, was a real treat and Helen was thrilled to bits.
“We have had a busy weekend, with the otters and a bittern generating lots of interest among visitors. It is fantastic for us to be able to share our passion for wildlife with our visitors and pass on some hints and tips on the best places on the reserve to see these species.”
Helen’s pictures show otters at the reserve’s biggest lake. One picture of three of the animals swimming in a row has been described on social media as ‘looking like the Loch Ness monster’, because the head of one otter and the tail of another are visible.
Otters are an iconic UK mammal and one of our top predators feeding on fish, waterbirds and amphibians. They are well-suited to a life on the water as they have webbed feet, dense fur to keep them warm, and can close their ears and nose when under water. They can grow to 90cm long, with a tail up to 45cm. They have a powerful body, pale grey-brown fur, broad snout and pale chest and throat.
Sarah said: “We often get otter sightings at Brockholes when river levels are high and we have had no shortage of water over the last few weeks. It just goes to show that the worst weather for humans is often the best for spotting our wildlife.”
The otter sightings come a few days after the bittern brought birders flocking to Brockholes over the festive season.
Bitterns have visited the reserve around this time for the past three years. They are a member of the heron family. Last year, a bittern was one of five types of heron visiting the reserve along with resident grey heron, little egret, great white egret and night heron. Bitterns are tall and brown mottled, and famous for their ‘boom’ call.
Brockholes is open every day, with the visitor village closed Mondays.
The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is dedicated to the protection and promotion of the wildlife in Lancashire, seven boroughs of Greater Manchester and four of Merseyside, all lying north of the River Mersey.
●● Otters at Brockholes
●● A bittern at the water’s edge