Stop 5: Where the wild things are
Water voles, warblers, buntings and beetles ... most canal creatures find safe haven in the reeds at the water’s edge.
Look for the low wooden fencing within the canal, created as safe havens for wildlife. These mini nature reserves will become more important as boat numbers increase on the canal.
Threatened water vole
Water vole numbers have plummeted in the UK, mainly through loss of unpolluted streams, and being hunted by mink. We have them on the canal, living on the far bank.
Birds in the reeds
Many birds live and nest amongst the reeds, including the moorhen, coot, sedge warbler and reed bunting. Most are secretive, so listen for their song. But the reed bunting perches high up and chirrups at the top of its voice.
The king of birds
With luck you might see a kingfisher waiting to dive for a small fish. Or you’ll see a flash of electric blue and hear its ‘peep-peep’ call.
Dragons and damsels
In summer, watch for the superb flying displays of dragonflies and the smaller damselflies – 13 species breed in the canal. They start life as nymphs living amidst the reeds (more about these little nasties later!).
Fishes and underwater crawlers
Other creatures that shelter in the reed beds include water snails, freshwater mussels, water beetles and young fish.
The reed bunting blasts out its song from the top of reeds.
A loud ‘plop’ gives away the water vole – can you hear any?
The next stop point is beside the large black box on the towpath.
Last date edited: 17 July 2015