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Canal wildlife: the good, the bad and the ugly

Ducklings

We’ve seen lots of fluffy ducklings on the Mon & Brec this spring. It’s a lovely sight – watching them meander along the canal in a line behind their mother. Then there’s the comical moment when they attempt to jump out of the water onto the bank. Some seem to get it first time, others try over and over again without much success. But a few days later, they’re back and seem to have all mastered the technique of getting in and out of the water. Sometimes they take a rest on the tyres that line our wharf to prevent boats getting damaged on the stone edge. How cute!

It’s worth remembering that the Canal and River Trust is trying to spread the word that feeding white bread to ducks isn’t particularly good. They suggest alternatives like porridge oats or bird seed and are offering a free duck-themed activity guide and a special quack snacks pouches for you to store your healthy duck food snacks in. Find out more here.


Terrapins

Recently a customer sent us these photographs of a terrapin that was spotted in the canal near Llangattock. As the Canal and River Trust’s ecologist Mark Robinson said - it’s not good to have terrapins in canals as they are an alien species that can damage native species. Terrapins, imported from the USA, became popular as pets in the 1980s during the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles cartoon craze. However many became unwanted once they’d grown too large for their owners’ domestic tanks, and were irresponsibly released into the wild. If left unchecked, the terrapins can grow to the size of a large dinner plate, weigh 2kg and live for 30 years, while eating dragonfly and damselfly larvae, small fish, frogspawn and even ducklings. So there’s a timely reminder that unwanted pets need to be re-homed properly.




Lesser Horseshoe Bats

Even though some people find bats ugly and even scary, we’re delighted that the Mon & Brec canal appears to offer ideal foraging habitat for the Lesser Horseshoe bat. Even better news, they are now roosting in two historic lime kiln sites along the canal, at Brecon and Llangynidr. It’s down to the excellent work carried out by the Canal and River Trust, the Vincent Wildlife Trust and local volunteers. The limekilns were sympathetically restored and adapted to attract the rare Lesser Horseshoe bats. The shape of the kiln is ideal, the stone walls retain heat and there are grills across the front to enable the bats to fly in and out.

 We’d love to know what wildlife you’ve spotted recently on the Mon & Brec. Why not post them on Twitter @beaconparkboats or email them to us? Look forward to seeing your photos!

wildlife