Ten creatures great and small

We've all seen a heron or two along the canal, but have you ever seen a polecat or an otter? You could be surprised at what you might find down your local stretch. Here's ten for starters, so keep a look-out!

A badger Badger

1. The badger

These cute creatures with their black and white features are pretty shy, and they only come out at night, so getting a glimpse of one will be tricky. Most commonly found in the south-west and Wales, although some sightings have been recorded in the north-east of England. 

2. The grass snake

No need to be scared of these little reptiles. Grass snakes can be found in the damper habitats around most of England and Wales, and are completely harmless, and very shy of humans.

3. The stoat

Another night-walker, but stoats have been spotted during daylight hours. Usually they make dens in hollow trees or walls and are generally seen near moorland, woods and mountains. 

4. The great-crested newt

Unfortunately, due to increased urbanisation and loss of habitat, the great-crested newt is becoming a rare sight along our canals. They hide under stones and logs, so tricky to spot.

5. The otter

Another shy creature, the Eurasian otter can be spotted hunting prey in quiet stretches of canals across England and Wales.

6. The kestrel

Do you know your kestrels from your red kites and sparrowhawks? Kestrels are expert hoverers, but you may spot this bird of prey on a tree branch along the canal.

7. The bat

Although there are 18 different types of bat, you are most likely to see a pipistrelle or a Daubenton's bat. Bats can be spotted around dusk, and most commonly in the summer months.

8. The barn owl

Another one to spot at dusk, barn owls with their heart-shaped faces can be spotted along our riverbanks and towpaths.

9. The water vole

It's not a rat! Water voles, unlike rats, are our most endangered species. Look out for them in closely grazed lawn areas and neat piles of chopped grass.

10. The polecat

Notoriously difficult to track, polecats reside mostly in Wales and southern areas of England and like to make dens in woodlands and hedgerows.

Last date edited: 16 June 2022