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A icy treat for Gloucestershire's otters

Otters are keeping their cool at The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust at Slimbridge with the help of some special fish lollies.

Keeper John Crooks has been busy making the lollies by putting ingredients such as smelt, trout, minced beef and sardines in moulds to create the chilled treats.

John gives his otters fishy treats
John the keeper gives his otters fishy ice lollies at Slimbridge Credit: The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)

“It isn’t just our visitors enjoying ice lollies in this hot weather our otters love them too!

“They enjoy playing outdoors in all weathers so this is a way of keeping them cool with the added bonus that the texture of the ice gives their teeth a bit of a clean too.”

– WWT Otter Keeper, John Crooks
The lollies are made of fish and put in moulds to create the chilled treats.
The lollies are made of fish and put in moulds to create the chilled treats. Credit: The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)

WWT Slimbridge has three North American River Otters called Flo, Minnie and Ha ha.

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50 years of studying swans

Bewick swans at Slimbridge Credit: Wetlands & Wildfowl Trust

One of the longest-running animal research projects in the world is 50 today. The Bewick's swan study was started at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire by Sir Peter Scott in 1964.

He noticed that the birds have unique bill patterns, which researchers have to learn before they can take part.

More than 9,000 different swans have been identified. The work has provided data on survival rates and meant breeding sites in Russia have been protected.

Slimbridge's newest visitor

Staff at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Gloucestershire say visitors are loving seeing a seal at the reserve.

A harbour seal has been making the River Severn near the Slimbridge reserve its happy hunting ground for the last 2 months.The harbour seal is usually found on the east coast, in Northern Ireland and in Scotland.

It presumably comes in with the tide each day and has chosen to hunt just off our reserve.

It is very specific where it hunts as it seems to have learnt where the fish will be at a certain state of the tide.

It likes to feed between the land and an island in the river.

It is also quite a prolific hunter and seems to catch at least four or five large grey mullet every day.

We have also seen it take and eat a gull from the surface of the water.

– James Lees, Warden at Slimbridge Reserve

The flamingo that thinks he's a swan

The 52-year-old Andean flamingo began floating when temperatures first soared a few weeks ago. Credit: WWT Slimbridge

A flamingo in Gloucestershire has shunned standing on one leg for floating in water in an effort to cool down.

Experts at Slimbridge Wetland Centre say they have never witnessed the "unusual" behaviour before.

The 52-year-old Andean flamingo began floating when temperatures first soared a few weeks ago.

He now regularly indulges in a mid-afternoon float, with his legs outstretched behind him.

Paul Rose, a flamingo expert at WWT Slimbridge, said: "Lots of flamingos go for a quick paddle around but I've never seen anything like this.

“I first noticed the unusual behaviour as the weather warmed up a few weeks ago so I think it is his way of keeping cool in the heat of the day.

“He floats with his legs outstretched behind him for long periods of time.

“I think it is his way of relaxing, as he seems very content. It is presumably the equivalent to a human floating in a swimming pool on a lilo.”

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