More about the otters in Lambrok Stream
Simon Tesler’s video of an otter hunting in the moat at Southwick Court is powerful evidence not only of Lambrok Stream’s biodiversity, but its importance as a wildlife corridor that runs from the River Biss right up through and beyond Southwick village.
This is a European otter, the only otter species native to Britain. It is a carnivore, an apex predator, right at the top of the freshwater food chain. Its diet is mainly fish, but can include freshwater shellfish, aquatic insects, frogs, small mammals (even our precious water voles!) and birds, especially baby ducks.
Lambrok Stream is part of this otter’s territory (called its range), which also seems to include the garden ponds of various houses in Wynsome Street, Southwick Country Park’s swan mussel beds, probably a fair stretch of the Biss, and possibly a section of the River Avon. Last year, an otter family was seen playing in the Biss, right in the middle of Trowbridge, under the Town Bridge.
A second video of the otters at Southwick Court from Simon Tesler.
The housing developments proposed at Southwick Court (H2.6), Upper Studley (H2.5) and Church Lane (H2.4) will run alongside the Lambrok for more than a kilometre of this otter’s range. There will be dogs, cats and many more people for the otter to avoid, and the possibility of pollution if the developers are not required to properly protect the stream from run-off on these three steep sites.
In addition, Waddeton Park Ltd, the developers at Southwick Court (H2.6), propose to bridge the stream. The plan includes an access road that will run along a causeway from Frome Road, over the new bridge, to the 180 houses planned for the green fields north of Southwick. The planning application suggests that the road and the bridge will have minimal ecological impact; we know that both will have to be substantial enough for the thousands of tons of building materials and heavy machinery needed on site before even a single brick is laid, and we fear that the ecological impact will be horrific.
A bridge with a ledge for otters; the ledge is conical, an attempt to offer the otters a high place to spraint other than in the road, on top of the bridge.
A bridge in otter territory presents two problems. Firstly, otters prefer not to swim through a tunnel if they can help it, so will need some kind of path or ledge beside the water if they are not to be cut off from this part of their range; secondly, otters spraint (defaecate to mark their territory) on high points and Waddeton Park Ltd will need to make sure that the highest point is not on top of the bridge, in the middle of the road, where our otter will be at risk of becoming another roadkill statistic.
We know that Lambrok Stream is sufficiently biodiverse to support a top predator. We need to make sure that the developments planned for the urban/rural southern boundary of Trowbridge do not damage this beautiful animal’s habitat nor cut it off from its hunting grounds.