Our waterways are important for wildlife and a visit to the Montgomery Canal offers a great opportunity to come face-to-face with a wide range of plants and animals.
As part of the restoration of the Montgomery Canal, everyone involved has been mindful of the importance of wildlife and of protecting it for future generations. One of the beauties of cruising the Montgomery Canal or walking along the towpath is the abundance of wildlife in and beside the water.
Those sections of the canal that have been neglected for many years have become wildlife havens with newts, frogs and many plant species calling the dried out sections of the canal home.
Although keen to bring the canal back into water, those working on the restoration are also very mindful of ensuring this important habitat is not lost. That’s why along the route of the restoration works there are several areas reserved to provide a special habitat for plants and animals. Already established is the Aston Nature Reserve, adjacent to the Aston Locks at Queen’s Head, where otters are often seen.
Here are just some of the things to look out for during your visit to the Montgomery Canal.
In spring, yellow iris can be found in profusion along the Montgomery Canal, especially between Rednal and Frankton.
Blue damselflies are a common sight along the Montgomery Canal.
There are two main types of dragonfly to look out for. The broad-bodied chaser – the male is blue and the female brown. Not quite so common is the larger and slimmer hawker.
Harmless grass snakes may be found in the long grass at the towpath edge. They are also at home in the water.
There are of course many different kinds of birds to look out for. A particular favourite is the grey wagtail. These nest in canal-side structures, such as lock gates, and can often be seen hovering over the water catching insects.
Fresh water mussels
Small freshwater mussels are sometimes found growing on the walls of locks.
The much larger swan mussel lives in the canal bed. They are food for herons and the discarded shells are often found canal-side.
One of the most colourful birds, these are often seen following the course of the canal, but if you are lucky you might see one at rest on a branch perhaps, where you can appreciate its colourful plumage.