Environment: Will you join summer waterways survey?

With schools closed for the summer holidays, it’s not just our children that are thriving this August.

Tuesday, 16th August 2011, 5:34 am

Britain’s canals and rivers are brimming to the full with young wildlife as parents take advantage of the warm weather and long summer days to raise their young, making now the perfect time to take part in British Waterways’ Wildlife Survey.

British Waterways’ national ecologist Dr Mark Robinson said: “The vast majority of nature’s young were born during June and July, following the spring mating season.

“During August, the warm weather means insects are out in force and the fruits of plants are ripening fast. This makes the waterways an ideal nursery environment for a huge number of species.

“Species out this month include young kingfishers, who are using shallow pools to practice diving; reed buntings and warblers, which can easily be heard nesting in the reed beds; water voles, who are having their second or third litter of the year; great crested newt tadpoles and no-one could miss the fluffy ducklings.”

Our canals and rivers, while busy during the summer with walkers, anglers, boaters and cyclists, also offer a unique haven for wildlife as they provide lush green corridors cutting through Britain’s cities, towns and farmland, and a green infrastructure the linking clusters of woodland.

The Wildlife Survey is open for anyone to take part until the end of September and, this year, is highlighting bats, which are Britain’s only flying mammal. Most bat pups will now have left their maternal roost and perfecting their flying skills.

Mark added: “For bats, canals are like a cross between the M1 and a supermarket. They will be taking full advantage of the bountiful canal insect harvest to build up enough fat to get them through the winter, as well as learning how to use their sonar and wings to navigate.

To take part in the Wildlife Survey or download a guide to waterways wildlife visit www.waterscape.com