The Kennet and Avon canal
Do you love Wiltshire's waterways?
British Waterways are asking nature lovers across Wiltshire to help record the bugs and beasties they spot on canals, rivers and reservoirs around the county.
Wiltshire's waterways are simply teeming with wildlife. Birds, mammals, fish, amphibians and insects thrive in Wiltshire's canals, rivers and reservoirs. And while you're out and about enjoying the sunshine over the next few months, British Waterways wants you to help record the various wildlife you see in a national wildlife survey.
British Waterways looks after 2,200 miles of the nation's canals and rivers. Half the population of the UK lives within five miles of a waterway and according to British Waterways an incredible 11 million people use them every year as part of their everyday life. As a short-cut to work, for walking the dog or simply for taking time-out and watching the boats.
This is the 6th annual wildlife survey
British Waterways' job is to ensure the waterways attract enough investment to be well maintained and remain appealing to the local communities they pass through.
John Ward, British Waterways South West acting general manager, said:
"Britain’s waterways are enjoyed by millions of people every year and provide valuable habitats for an amazing array of plants and animals. We want to ensure that the beautiful bio-diversity continues to thrive in Wiltshire and this is where you come in."
This is the sixth year the survey has taken place and you can input your results throughout the year until October. The end results will give British Waterways’ ecologists a clear picture of what species live where and how they can be protected in the future.
Last year the survey focused on the dragonfly and damselfly and the elusive water vole and mink were both spotted in the Wiltshire region. This year, the survey has an extra focus on the endangered native species, the bumblebee and is supported by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. The Trust aims to protect bumblebees and their habitats. The survey includes all waterways, not only those cared for by British Waterways.
Three species of Bumblebee are already extinct in the UK and several others have experienced dramatic decline. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust was founded in response to growing concerns about the plight of the bumblebee. The Trust aim to prevent further declines and to raise awareness of the problems bumblebees face, and hope the results of this survey will help them plan future conservation work.
There are so many places to look
Dr. Ben Darvill, is the Director of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and said: "Three of Britain’s 25 native species of bumblebee are now nationally extinct and a further six are at crisis point, according to the Government.
With the rapid destruction of bee-friendly habitats such as fields, canals and river banks are playing an important role in supporting the survival of bumblebees as they are home to a variety of wild flowers and native plants that bumblebees rely on. We are pleased to be working with British Waterways to help protect these precious and beautiful insects."
There are many places to spot wildlife in Wiltshire including the Kennet and Avon Canal, hot spots include the Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes and All Cannings, Honeystreet, Wilcot, Pewsey, Great Bedwyn and Crofton.
John Ward, British Waterways South West acting general manager, said: "Next time you are visiting your local waterway, we want you to tell us what canal creatures you’ve spotted and where. The Kennet & Avon Canal is free and accessible to visit at any time of year so why not make a day of it and head out for some fresh air and wildlife spotting."
last updated: 07/04/2009 at 11:01
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