KEITH the seal has a rival for our affections after Worcester had a surprise visit from another fishy friend - an adventurous one-eyed otter.
This intrepid otter was spotted in Gheluvelt Park in Barbourne, Worcester, and was even mistaken by some for Keith herself as he or she swam and fished in the park's lake by the bandstand, proving Keith is not the only aquatic animal making waves in Worcestershire. An expert says that if the park is in the otter's territory it may well make a return visit.
Gardener Barney Woodall, who has worked at the park for year, took this picture of the otter yesterday morning. He struggled to get a decent picture because the animal was moving so fast, devouring three or four fish during 15 minutes it was in the lake. The 20-year-old of Alfrick Pound said the otter was missing an eye and looked to be old but that it had no problem catching fish.
He said: "It seemed to know its way around pretty well. We think when the park is quiet it comes up to fish in the lake.
"I have never seen one there before. It swam down the drain pipe into the feed-off stream from the lake. People who saw it thought it was a seal but we went down and it was an otter, swimming around and feeding on the fish in the lake. When I saw the otter it had a silver fish in its mouth. I was stood just five feet away."
Eventually the otter disappeared through a hole in the wall, back in the direction of the river Severn.
Steven Bloomfield, a planning conservation officer with the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, said: "It certainly is an otter and it’s a great record for the park. Given the high water levels of late it may be that it’s using backwaters and flooded land to rest away from the main Severn channel. Otters are happy to use even quite small ditches to get from one water body to another so the behaviour noted is just what one might expect to see during times of flood.
"Otters have quite large home ranges to it’s likely that this animal has the park within its territory. With that in mind I doubt if it’s made its home there but it is quite likely that it visits more often than we know."