Waterway wildlife in autumn

Did you know?

Every hour enough plastic to fill two bin bags is washed into our oceans from canals and rivers.

What’s your favourite thing about autumn? The amazing colours, the musty autumnal smell in the air or the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot?

Autumn on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal Autumn on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

One of our favourite things about this time of year is the wildlife that you can see. There’s plenty to spot along our canals and rivers before the cold weather sets in.

It doesn't matter if you're in a town or the countryside. Come and visit us and find out why spending time by water will help you feel refreshed and happier than you were before.

Beautiful birds

Some wildlife comes to the UK in the autumn because we have a more plentiful supply of food and warmer climate to help them survive the winter.

Flocks of fieldfare and redwing can often be seen arriving in October and will be searching out the hawthorn berries in hedgerows. These two species of bird look similar to the song thrush and sometimes you'll see redwings and fieldfares flocking together. It’s tricky to tell them apart but the eagle eyed will spot the red flash on the underwing which gives the redwing its name.

Stag beetle on log reared upA bug's life

Look out for piles of fallen leaves - tiny insects living on the ground are ready and waiting to munch through the decaying matter, turning it into fertile soil.

We often don’t think about these creatures of the underworld, but they are one of the most important parts of our ecosystem. It’s their job to tidy up the mess which autumn brings.

Sniff the ivy 

If you spot some ivy, go and have a sniff. It’s not the most pleasant of scents but that punchy smell is heaven to the insects. The pollen and nectar produced by ivy is one of the last sources of these precious commodities before everything shuts down for winter so, in the autumn, ivy is often buzzing with life.

You will probably find a few different species of bee, a wasp or two and probably lots of different species of flies.

Sloes by the canalBerry bonanza 

Berries are a brilliant source of food through the winter months for small mammals such as wood mice and bank voles. These furry creatures need to stock up on food whilst it’s plentiful before the cold winter comes and store it in a secret place.

Sometimes, if you peer into a small hole in the trunk of a tree, you might be lucky enough to spot one of these stashes, hidden away ready for that mid-winter feast.

Foraging frenzy

If you fancy taking foraging a bit further than just picking the low hanging fruit, why not look around your feet and try harvesting the roots of dandelion or horseradish. There are 250 species of dandelion in the UK and they can add flavour to lovely casserole or stir-fry or you can roast the roots to make a good coffee.

If you do decide to have a go at foraging, be sure that you’ve identified it properly, only take what you need and make sure that you leave enough for the wildlife who need the food to get them through winter.

Last date edited: 23 August 2018