What a difference a year makes! And the natural world around us has gloriously responded.
Over the past three years the Audlem canal towpath has been regularly surveyed by members of the Audlem Wildlife & Ecology Group for its wildlife, be that plants, insects, birds or animals. The sightings recorded during that time have helped to build a significant picture of what might be seen at different times of the year.
With the co-operation of the Canal & River Trust maintenance team a maintenance scheme has been agreed which gives the ecology, especially wild plants, the chance to thrive while keeping the towpath clear for users. This has particularly involved the sensitive strimming of the banks. This also had the benefit of preventing soil erosion onto the pathway. This has been remarkably successful and year on year new species have been recorded and those present have extended their range.
These year we have had spectacular shows of Snowdrops, Lesser Celendines, Red Deadnettles, Purple and White Violets, Greater Stitchwort and Greater Periwinkles. On the bank by the drive down to the Shroppie, an area has been cordoned off to encourage a patch of the endangered English Bluebells which were seen regenerating last year after a number of years of being strimmed to death. These have now flowered and excitingly have extended along the bank. Hopefully within a year or two there will be a mass of blue flowers along the bank to enjoy.
With the flowering plants come bees, butterflies and other insects. Look out for Orangetip, Speckled Wood and Peacock butterflies.The early wild plants including the despised Dandelion are such an important food source for insects early on in the season. Over the three years of surveying a staggering 141 different species of wild plant have been recorded.
It is not only wild plants that are recorded. Other interesting sightings have been otter, polecat, and water vole.
If you are interested in local wildlife join us at a Audlem Wildlife & Ecology Group Meeting- the next being on Tuesday 7th May at 7pm at the Audlem Public Hall Annex, when the interesting subject will be 'Water Voles'.
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