Welcome the urban otter to your town as numbers grow

 
Otter sprainting After years of filming otter poo I finally caught one in the act of producing it

We know that foxes have made a great success of moving into our towns and cities but what about other wildlife?

Well for Urban Jungle on BBC One we set out to find out what wildlife you can see in the densely populated parts of the Midlands.

Seagulls in particular have made a massive success of moving from our coasts to our cities.

In fact the two species you are most likely to see in a place like Birmingham, the lesser black backed and the herring gull, are doing so badly at the coast they've been put on the amber and the red endangered lists.

In the city, on the other hand, numbers are actually increasing.

Meanwhile in Worcestershire it's the city of Worcester that boasts of being a slow worm hot spot. Good news for gardeners in Worcester as slow worms eat an awful lot of slugs.

But good news for the rest of us too, a thriving population is more likely to spread out into the surrounding countryside.

Otters in Rugby

But urban areas don't just provide a refuge for wildlife. A town like Rugby sits on a number of waterways that link the river network in the Midlands.

Urban Jungle logo

The Urban Jungle is part of the BBC's Summer of Wildlife which celebrates our fascinating wild neighbours.

If a species like the otter is returning to Rugby it means they're also pushing through the town and repopulating other parts of the region. A large population of otters will be much healthier than several isolated pockets.

For this week's programme we wanted to see if we could prove otter numbers had grown to the point where they were braving a busy town like Rugby and moving through it. We had a likely location for our camera, under a bridge with a busy road just next to a bustling retail park.

The first few times we retrieved the camera were a bit disappointing, the high point being a muntjac deer and the low point an apparently intoxicated bloke using the river as a rather damp shortcut.

But finally we managed to capture something rather special - not just one otter but an entire family. Proof that urban otters are back and right under our noses.

In the end what I learnt from making Urban Jungle is that Midlands wildlife isn't just attempting to adapt to city life and scraping by. For some creatures our towns and cities provide an important refuge that boosts populations and helps them survive.

And after years of filming otter poo all over the Midlands it was a moment of great pride to catch an otter in the act of actually producing it.

You can view Urban Jungle in the West Midlands on the BBC iPlayer for next week.

 
David Gregory-Kumar Article written by David Gregory-Kumar David Gregory-Kumar Science & Environment correspondent, BBC News

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