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Nature and wildlife by the waterways

Canals and rivers are rich in nature and wildlife, with a unique biodiversity that makes them among the country’s most important environmental assets. 

Rural waterway habitats range from woodland and hedgerow, through to grassland, wetlands and open water.

Canals and rivers reach into the heart of most of Britain’s larger towns and cities, bringing a unique cross-section of the countryside into the urban environment.

On just the 2000 miles of waterway managed by Canal & River Trust, there are 73 Special Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and 1,566 non-statutory nature sites.

Birds on the waterways

Ornithologists can enjoy a wide range of bird sightings, from those that can be found commonly such as the majestic mute swan, moorhens, herons and ducks, to those that are harder to spot, such as kingfishers. There are also migratory birds and rarer species such as ospreys at Rutland Water.

Waterway mammals

Other wildlife includes the now legally protected water voles and the returning otter population. It is possible to even have a rare sighting of a wild boar.

Insects, flora & fauna

Insects such as dragonflies are in abundance and the environment can allow the increasingly rare and also protected bumble and rare butterflies to flourish.

The wide range of flora and fauna is very different from an urban landscape to a rural wetland.

Nature & Wildlife Articles