Wildlife flood threat

Canal Boat - - News -

“IT’S GO­ING TO be a hard year ahead for our king­fish­ers,” says Canal & River Trust En­vi­ron­ment man­ager Jonathan Hart-Woods, talk­ing about the im­pact of the Box­ing Day floods on wa­ter­way wildlife.

“Pol­lu­tion lev­els al­ways play a part in a flood­ing sit­u­a­tion. You get the sur­face wa­ter run-off from sur­round­ing roads and fields, as well as any larger pol­lu­tion in­ci­dents such as sewage. You can see the silt and the lit­ter in the wa­ter and in the veg­e­ta­tion with your own eyes.

“A lot of wa­ter­way birds are go­ing to find it dif­fi­cult to feed – king­fish­ers and herons need clear wa­ter to feed in. Our aquatic plants have all been dis­turbed, and that will have a rip­ple ef­fect through­out the ecosys­tem of the wa­ter­ways.

“Only a small per­cent­age of young king­fish­ers sur­vive ev­ery year, but they are go­ing to find it es­pe­cially hard this year. As well as the is­sues with feed­ing, we’re also go­ing to find that some tra­di­tional nest­ing sites will have been washed away with the flood­ing. King­fish­ers are ter­ri­to­rial and like to re­turn to the same nest­ing sites year af­ter year, but that just won’t be pos­si­ble for them now.”

And it’s not just birds – “The fast river flows caused by the flood­ing may well have caught out any young ot­ters who couldn’t get them­selves to safety,” warns Jonathan. “Ground-dwellers such as bad­gers and foxes may also have been trapped by ris­ing flood wa­ters which could have flooded their setts and dens.”

Visit canal­rivertrust.org.uk to do­nate to the Trust’s flood ap­peal.

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