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18 June 2014
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Waterways | Pocklington canal

New life for old canals

Pocklington Canal c/o British Waterways Photolibrary

Canals are great places to go wildlife hunting - because where disturbance has been kept to a minimum, nature has just flooded back in.

The Pocklington Canal is one of the most important waterways for wildlife in the whole of the UK.

Pocklington Canal

Britain's canals are great places for wildlife watching especially if you can travel by boat.

This canal's eye view gives you a brilliant overview of nature above and below the water from birds and plants to insects and aquatic life.

The Pocklington Canal flows through the Vale of York from the foothills of the Yorkshire Wolds to join the River Derwent.

You can walk the canal's entire length on a grassy towpath.

The canal fell into disuse when the railways arrived - now about half of its ten mile length is open to boats - but the rest is unrestored. And its here that wildlife has really moved in.

Barn OwlBrilliant Barn Owls

The canal is bordered by grassland which offers rich pickings for the Barn Owl which is thriving in this ideal environment.

The best way to spot the owls is to look at dusk or dawn when you'll see them flying about ten feet off the ground in search of food.

Another give-away is the presence of kennel-like structures which are Barn Owl boxes.

Finally, it's a good idea to gain some height in this flat landscape - use a bridge over the canal as a good vantage point - and don't forget your binoculars.

Waterside nature

Canal at PocklingtonOn the canal towpath you'll see grassland plants like ox-eye daisy and betony.

Look in the water you'll see phragmites reeds, water lilies, water forget-me-not & flowering rush.

And plants on a waterway like this mean only one thing... fantastic insects!

Look for vegetation like lilies - Damselflies can often be seen resting on the leaves which they use as a launch pad.

Thirteen species of Dragonflies and Damselflies can be found along the ten mile stretch of the canal including the Emperor, Britain's largest.

Characterised by its greeny blue thorax, the Emperor is in great contrast to another canal resident, the brightly coloured Red-eyed Damselfly.

Warm days are best - the insects are most active from about 10.30am into the early afternoon.

Photos of Pocklington Canal courtesy of British Waterways Photolibrary.



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