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Many of us like to go for a walk along the riverside or a canal tow path. Most of the inland waterways in Britain are looked after by British Waterways, who conduct an annual survey of the wildlife on our canals and rivers. The survey is carried out by the general public, who report sightings of wildlife that they have seen whilst out and about on our canals and rivers. Last year, people taking part in the wildlife survey reported more than 42,500 sightings of nearly 300 different species of birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects and mammals making their homes on our canals and rivers.

British Waterways are currently requesting the help of the public for their 2010 survey:

We need your help. Between now and October, we’d like you to tell us what creatures you’ve seen on your local waterway, how many and where. Each sighting you record helps British Waterways’ ecologists to monitor, protect and conserve the amazing biodiversity found on our canals and rivers.

Taking Part in the Wildlife Survey is Easy!

Walkers using canal tow paths and trails by the river bank are in an ideal position to take part in the wildlife survey. Fortunately taking part is easy. All you need to do is make a note of when and where you have made a sighting and, what animal you have seen. It could be an insect, bird, mammal, fish, amphibian or reptile, all are included. To log your results simply go onto the British Waterways website where you can enter the information. Alternatively ring British Waterways on 01923 201120 if you would like them to send you a form.

The most common animals that are seen on our waterways are shown in the table below, however you could see an animal that is not listed here. To help with identification, British waterway have an excellent wildlife guide.

Insects Birds Mammals Fish Amphibians
and Reptiles
Bumblebee Barn Owl Badger Carp Frog
Damselfly Buzzard Bat Roach Grass Snake
Dragonfly Canada Goose Fox Perch Newt
Butterfly Coot Grey Squirrel Pike Common Toad
Grasshopper Heron Hare Stickleback Terrapin
Hornet House Sparrow Hedgehog Trout  
Ladybird Kingfisher Mink    
Pond Skater Lapwing Rabbit    
Waterboatman Moorhen Otter    
  Robin Stoat    
  Swan Water Vole    
  Starling      
Kingfisher bird

The Kingfisher is this year's star! Source: Flickr by Sheffield Tiger

Each year the British Waterways’ Wildlife Survey has a star species. This year it is the beautifully coloured kingfisher. Have you been lucky enough to see one whilst out walking? You can easily find out if anyone taking part in the survey has, using the interactive wildlife survey results page. Sightings of five animal types are shown on an on-line ordnance survey map. The animals types shown are the Bat, Dragonfly and Damselfy, Grass Snake, Kingfisher and Water Vole.

Waterways Provide Crucial Habitat

2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. Globally we are losing many species of plants and animals. One of the reasons for this is due to habitat loss caused by human activities. Fortunately, Britain’s canals and rivers provide valuable habitats for thousands of animals and plants. By knowing the population of various species of animals in different locations, conservation programmes can be suitably designed and provide significantly better results. Wildlife surveys are a great way to find out this information, so when you’re out walking along the tow path or river bank, why not keep a look out for wildlife and take part in the survey!

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