Wild Waterways

The River Frome

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The twenty-one mile long River Frome which rises near Witham Friary, is joined by head streams which flow through the valley between Wanstrow and Upton Noble and streams flowing from Witham Park, before it travels close to Lower Marston, past Blatchbridge and then runs on through the town of Frome.  A stream which rises on Newbury Hill, tumbles down through the fields alongside Colliers Way route 24 towards Buckland Bridge, where it joins  the Buckland Brook near Elliots Farm. After Hapsford, the Brook joins the Mells River which in turn joins the River Frome just north of the town at Spring Gardens.

The Frome, widened by the additional streams, then continues past Oldford and Beckington, is joined by the Henhambridge Brook just south of Rode, passes to the east of Rode and then flows through Tellisford.  The River then runs north past Farliegh Hungerford and meanders around Westwood where it joins the River Avon at Freshford.

The Somerset Otter Group Somerset Otter Group was originally founded to see if there were any otters left after the major decline to near extinction.  Happily the goal posts have moved a lot since the mid 1980’s and the group now undertakes a wide range of aims, objectives and activities which include, among many others, regular systematic surveys, an annual co-ordinated two day spring survey of the whole of Somerset, monthly surveys by members and volunteers and population mapping and estimation.

5th April 2018: 10am – 12.30pm

We volunteered to survey a stretch down river from the centre of town which isn’t  checked at the present time.  As we are complete novices, we were very fortunate that Anthony House, a Group committee member, who has been surveying and recording otters for more than twenty years agreed to show us the ropes.  Not surprisingly his knowledge and expertise is prodigous and as we walked the course, he pointed out the areas where we could expect to see spraint (scat), tracks, slides and scrapes if an otter was active in the area.  He explained that spraint is often deposited on prominent features like rocks, fallen trees, bridge supports and storm drains and that the deposits act as scent markers to other otters and are used to define territories.

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We couldn’t have wished for a better day for our search – the sun was warm, the skies a cloudless blue and the breeze slight and fresh as we clambered over stiles, peered under bridges, pushed our way through thickets and wandered beside the river which was in full fast spate after weeks of constant rainfall.  Eventually, to the great delight of us all, we came across a small silted beach where there was not only clear spoor but also a patch of anal jelly, the two together a clear confirmion of otter presence.

We look forward to our half-daytraining session with Jo Pearse at the Somerset Levels and hope one day we will also be lucky enough to actually see a local otter!