Environment Wildlife Diary
Wildlife Diary: 2007

August 2007

Swindon - Herons at sunsetHeron

Herons are quite common visitors around the canal and Rushy Platt. They are a wonderful sight, with a huge wing span and are probably the nearest thing in the UK to a pterodactyl. The herons were very busy in spring 2008, making regular swoops down to the canal edge, and then standing motionless waiting for their prey.

RSPB Website: Grey Heron


Coots and Moorhens Westleaze Swindon



A pair of innovative coots nested in a lifebelt on the canal. This photo shows the chicks, who are almost full-grown but they still have a slight grey tinge. When they are very young the chicks have spiky plumage and a red face like their cousins the moor hens. The coots often build precarious nests in the middle of the water made from sticks and weed, piled onto a fallen branch. So the nests need running repairs as the chicks grow and if the eater level alters, so the "lifebelt family" nest was unusually stable. The coots are noisy and argumentative, and often squabble and fight.

RSPB Website: Coot

RSPB Website: Moorhen

The wildlife prepares at the New Abingdon Junction

I was down at the site at 07.30 this morning and we had turned the pump off overnight to see how quickly the canal would fill up. There was about a foot of water present covering the whole area so it looked more like a canal. On the tripod on which the laser level is mounted was ... a kingfisher! It flew away before I could get a picture. So not only it is true that canals attract wildlife but so do canals that aren't built yet or are not full of water. Presumably he was sussing out his next fishing ground. Naturalists please note.
Martin Buckland