BRITISH Waterways – guardian of the nation’s canals and rivers – is asking nature lovers of all ages to visit their local canal, river, reservoir or dock and tell them what creatures they see there.
This year’s survey will focus on the kingfisher, whose numbers are expected to have been affected by the recent harsh winter.
Mark Robinson, British Waterways’ national ecology manager, said: “We have had a hard winter this year and although nature is pretty resilient, we think many species will have suffered. The good news is that our waterways act as green corridors connecting towns, cities and farmland, and provide vital shelter and a winter larder for wildlife struggling to survive.
“However, some species will have been particularly hard hit. Frozen water and plummeting temperatures may have significantly reduced kingfisher populations, with the possibility that many lost the battle against the cold.
“It is therefore particularly important for us to monitor what species will need our support over the coming year and we’re asking the public to help us do that. Now that the weather has warmed up, kingfishers are starting to nest and so now is a great time to see them.”
With spring firmly here, the annual waterways wildlife survey is a perfect family activity and will continue throughout the year until the autumn.
Last year, people taking part in the wildlife survey reported more than 42,500 sightings including nearly 300 different species of birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects and other waterway mammals.
To help people get started, British Waterways has produced a downloadable guide to what wildlife can be found along the nation’s canals and rivers.
They are also running a photography competition alongside the survey for adults and children, with prizes of up to £100 available.
To find out more and to download a wildlife survey guide, log on to www.waterscape.com/wildlifesurvey.