Enforcement data collectors Adam Richardson and Phil Lloyd talk about wild life watching and photography on the Grand Union and Oxford canals.
Adam Richardson & Philip Lloyd are data collectors for the South East Enforcement team. They are out and about in all weathers and all seasons on the Oxford and Grand Union Canals logging boats using the canals with a hand held computer to check that they are licensed and that they are complying with boat licence terms and conditions. As a result they also have plenty of opportunities to indulge in their mutual interest of wildlife spotting.
Being outdoors in the fresh air, doesn’t matter what the weather is or the time of year. The worst thing for us is having to come back inside.
All sorts of things, the most unusual and rare animals so far have been water voles & egrets. We’ve seen grass snakes, butterflies, swans, thrushes, coots, cows and even water buffalo in a farmer’s field near the canal.
We do our boat checking walks individually which means we can be really quiet. Not making a lot of noise means you can get closer to wildlife to take photos and not scare it away. That said our best photos are of animals that aren’t so fleet of foot! Water voles are very shy and kingfishers too fast, especially if only armed with a phone or tablet camera. Take a decent camera with the biggest zoom you can afford if you can.
Do your research about what you might see before you go looking. Adam had never seen a water vole before and wasn’t sure what he had seen when he did see one so asked one of the Trust’s ecologists for more information. Now that he’s clued up on the water voles habitat and habits he see them all the time. Adam’s top tip for getting close to a water vole is to wait for a rainy day as the sound of the rain will help disguise the noise of your approach and you may even get a photo before they scurry off.
We never really used to think of the canals as being a great place for nature watching but since we’ve worked for the Trust we’ve really taken the canals to heart and enjoy showing our wildlife photos to each other. We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a couple of our photos too. If you want to learn more why not visit our #GreatNatureWatch page
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