AN OTTER briefly took up residence in Bradford on Avon last week after being spotted swimming and splashing around by the town bridge.

Nick Cole, 50, from Chippenham, was taking photos of the town bridge when a couple next to him told him to turn around and see the rare sight of an otter swimming in the river.

"It was really surprising to see an otter in a town but I was very lucky. I watched it for over 30 minutes. It would dive, then pop back up, head into open water where it was feeding and then head into the reeds," said Mr Cole, who is currently doing an Open University photography course.

"The couple know the river well and they said they had never seen one this close to the town centre - they are beautiful creatures."

Neil Pullen, the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust's nature reserve manager, said: "It is really exceptional to see an otter in Bradford on Avon but it is a wonderful spot by the bridge.

"It does not happen very much but more and more over the last few years there have been sightings of otters in urban areas.

"We want to help and preserve otters so if people do see them, please contact the Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Record Centre at"