The Worcester Canal Group has never taken much in boats or locks or mooring rights. However, lots of us are very interested in local wildlife. Proof of this is in the really good work that has been done at the pocket parks by the viaduct and at the Blockhouse lock.
We recognise that the canal is an important wildlife resource which we need to protect. We are hoping to gain recognition of the canals role as a wildlife corridor. The first step in doing this was to organise the Worcester Canal Wildlife Week. The week is now over. Without doubt it has been a success..
Before the week began we painted a local wildlife themed mural under the canal bridge at Lansdowne road. This was done with help from St Barnabas school, St Pauls hostel and volunteers from the Canal and River Trust who ferried us backwards and forwards to the far bank. We also had meetings with interested groups like the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, the CRT, the Allotment forum and the City Council Cleaner and Greener Team and promoted the week at the Arboretum Residents Association picnic, through the marina and lots of other places. We devised and distributed a simple monitoring form and we set up a website.
Key to the week were a number of wildlife monitoring events.
- The moth breakfast – was led by James Hitchcock and took place at Lansdowne allotments on Saturday the 10th. Ten people attended. We looked at the many examples of the six species of moth that had been trapped the previous evening as well as looking at habitats .
- The angling competition – took place on the 11th at the same time as the regular WDUAA competition. In three main `pounds` twenty two anglers caught over 90lbs of fish belonging to six main species. This was followed up by a visit to the canal group meeting from John Cheyne of the national angling association. The discussion we were able to have with him about habitats and the interaction between fish other wildlife and users of the canal is a good example of the kind of thing we are hoping to do more of in the future.
- The wildflower walk – was led by Mary Green and took place on Friday 16th. Thirteen people attended and on a sort walk along the towpath more than twenty wildflower species were identified and discussed.
- The bat walk – was led by Jane Sedgley Strachan of the WWT and took place on 16th. Six people took part in a short walk up to Bilford top lock and used bat detectors to identify and track bat activity. This walk was a follow up to a bat walk in March at which ten people walked a different stretch of the canal. This repetition of the same activity but at a different time of year is another example of the kind of thing we can do more of.
- On three separate occasions throughout the week Julie May Adams sat on the benches the canal group helped to install to offer help with identification and recording.
- At the time of writing not all of the individual monitoring forms which we know have been completed have been collected or recorded but around twenty have. What we are hoping is that this community monitoring of wildlife along the canal will continue and that people will keep on using the new website.
So altogether we can say that more than seventy people have taken an active part in the Worcester Canal Wildlife Week and that dozens of species have been identified and recorded. Or to put it another way, we have proven that there are plenty of people who are interested and there is plenty for them to be interested in.
We have learnt a lot from the Wildlife Week and that alone is worth having done.
For the future there are lots of things we would like to:
- Encourage people to carry on using the website and to carry on monitoring and recording wildlife along our stretch of canal.
- Continue promoting the idea of the canal as a wildlife corridor.
- Work with everyone else with an interest in the canal toward an integrated approach that encourages and enhances wildlife.
- Take part in national wildlife monitoring exercises like the RSPB bird watch and the Butterfly Trust butterfly watch.
- Monitor and record wildlife activity at different times of year.
- Take a closer look at some areas along the canal of particular importance.
- Take a closer look at the activities of particular species like slow worms or hedgehogs.
- Undertake some relatively small but important pieces of work such as clearing or putting up bird boxes.
But for now, a big thank you to everyone who has taken part.
Graham Fowler 24 Sept 2016