Have you been lucky enough to see Bedford’s otters at the Longholme boating lake? If so, it’s thanks to the tireless determination of the team at the Longholme cafe to remove weeds that were clogging the water.
Their efforts have paid off, with a wealth of wildlife returning to the lake, including herons, cormorants, kingfishers and fresh-water otters.
Throughout last year, Team Longholme, and particularly Adrian Allen, collaborated with Bedford Borough Council to clear the weeds.
“The business invested 300+ man hours last year at no cost to the taxpayer,” explained the Longholme’s Thomas Healey. “The result so far is evident, although the problem will sadly return.
“A larger project needs to take place and we understand the council are looking into. This project would remove or reduce the sediment on the lake floor to slow/stop the growth of the weed while improved water flow will limit future settlement of new sediment.
“The lake has become shallow due to the amount of sediment built up over the years resulting in the sunlight becoming more effective too at cultivating the weeds.”
Without the weeds, the fish stocks flourished and as the fish stocks improved the team at the Longholme began to see the avian life become more diverse.
“The icing on the cake was the appearance of the fresh water otter,” said Thomas. “Being one of the animals at the top of its food chain we have indications that this means the lake is sustaining good life with these adjustments.
“People will argue that the otters will deplete the fish stock, but it’s good to remember that this stock was not here at all 2 years ago, due to the condition of the water.
“The otters move frequently and don’t stay around for long making the most of all the assets around them by going up and down river.
“When the otters are around at the lake you can’t miss them, it’s almost like a show you might see at a zoo as they swim and dive around right in front of the café!”
This year, the Team at the Longholme hope that more permanent improvements to the waterway can be made to keep the lake clear. This responsibility falls to Bedford Borough Council who manage the lake officially.
Have you been lucky enough to spot the otters? If so, you can claim your very own Otter Spotter sticker from the Longholme café.
Designed by Bedford artist Marisa Straccia and sponsored by Explore Bedford, the stickers feature this cheeky chappie and we otter-ly love them.