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Otters make debut at Brockholes

A shy mammal has finally made a grand appearance at Lancashire’s youngest nature reserve, stuff after teasing wildlife spotters for four years.

In fact three otters were photographed by volunteer Helen Earnshaw swimming in Number One Pit at Brockholes over the weekend.

There were 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 Communications Manager 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 amongst 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 iconic species.”

The otters at Brockholes by Helen Earnshaw
The otters at Brockholes by Helen Earnshaw

Helen’s pictures show the three 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 the first otter and the tail of the back otter 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 underwater.

Otters 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, despite the bad weather.

Bittern have visited the reserve around this time over the past three years. It is a member of the heron family. Last year it was one of five types of heron visiting the reserve along with resident grey heron, little egret, great white egret and night heron. Bittern are tall, brown mottled herons famous for the “boom” call.

Brockholes is open every day, the with Visitor Village closed on Mondays. This coming Saturday will provide an opportunity for prospective volunteers to visit the reserve to learn how they can get involved in this pioneering reserve.

They will be able to meet staff and volunteers and talk through the many varied volunteer roles available from volunteering at events to helping maintain the floating Visitor Village. Car parking is free if you book in and meet with the Volunteer Team on the day. To book call 01772 872 000.

On Sunday 17th the Brockholes WATCH group are doing an owl pellet dissection session from 2-4pm in the Activity room (£2 per child). To book contact Liz on or 07910 476274.

Written by Gather

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