From today - Friday 3 April, 2009 - British Waterways is calling on nature lovers of all ages to get out and about on Buckinghamshire’s canals and reservoirs and record the bugs and beasties they spot there.
Water loving birds, mammals, fish, amphibians and insects thrive on the Grand Union Canal, which acts as a green corridor and safe haven for many species. A superb family activity, the 6th annual wildlife survey will be open throughout the year until October – and the end results will give British Waterways’ ecologists a clear picture of what species live where and how they can be protected.
Hannah Graves, Environmental Advisor, British Waterways South East says,
“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 this beautiful biodiversity continues to thrive in Buckinghamshire – and this is where you come in. Next time you are visiting your local waterway, we want you to tell us what canal critters you’ve spotted and where. The Grand Union Canal is free and accessible to visit at any time of the year so why not make a day of it and head out for some fresh air and wildlife spotting”
British Waterways is asking nature novices and seasoned spotters alike to count all creatures they spy. This year, the survey has an extra focus on endangered native species, the bumblebee, with support from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, which aims to protect bumblebees and their habitats.
Dr. Ben Darvill, director of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust comments: “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.”
To help people get started, British Waterways has produced a guide to what wildlife can be found along the nation's canals and rivers, including information on bumblebees and tips on how to support them. British Waterways' ecologists and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust will use the records of sightings to build up a comprehensive picture of those species that are doing well and which ones need more support.
In Buckinghamshire places to spot wildlife include:
Wendover Arm – keep your eyes peeled for little grebes and other water birds, dragonflies and damselflies
Milton Keynes – non-native terrapins have been spotted in the canal around Great Linford
British Waterways is also running a photography and drawing competition alongside the survey for adults and children, with prizes of up to £100 available.
For more information, or to download a wildlife survey guide, visit www.waterscape.com/wildlifesurvey