Stop 2: Strange squatters
From bats under bridges to weird plants splattered on stonework, the old buildings along the canal have been overrun with wildlife
Going batty at dusk
In spring and summer, bats feed at dusk, snapping up insects over the canal. We get Pipistrelle and Daubenton’s bats here, living in old buildings, bridges, trees and ivy.
The ivy that clings to the stone walls is a safe nesting place for birds, and its berries are an important winter food source. Its flowers provide nectar for bees and other insects.
Nature’s graffiti artists
The patterns on walls, like splatters of paint, are lichens. These strange organisms are a mixture of algae and fungus. Lichens can live for 100s of years, so some will be as old as the canal itself.
The walls are also festooned with mosses, liverworts and ferns, able to survive even when the stone is completely dried out.
Below the surface, the stonework is home to creatures like the white-clawed crayfish, a relative of the lobster, and freshwater sponges.
The stonework is so important for wildlife that Trust staff are careful to minimise disruption when carrying out repairs.
The best way to hear bats is to use a bat detector. The detector translates their echolocation calls into an audible sound - this is what a Pipistrelle sounds like.
Continue along the towpath to the lock. Cross the bridge, and you’ll find the next stop on the other side of the canal beside the lock gates.
Last date edited: 17 July 2015