White Cart Water Flood Prevention Scheme

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Contract 2 - environment

Protecting the wildlife of the White Cart Water - Issue 3

Otters

A survey conducted before works commenced established the presence of otters (figure 1) all along the affected stretches of the White Cart Water. The movement of the otters and the presence of otter holts (dens) has been monitored by the project ecologist and signs of their continued movement up and down the river, past the flood protection works have been seen throughout the summer. Several artificial otter holts were constructed during the summer 2009 (figure 2).


Figure 1 The European otter (Lutra lutra)


Figure 2 – An artificial otter holt

Already, there have been signs seen of otter using at least one of these holts. These signs include the presence of otter spraint outside the entrance of the holt and traces of soil tracked into the holt entrance.

Bats

Bats have been recorded in the vicinity of the White Cart Water especially pipistrelle bats and daubenton bats, which feed on small insects flying over calm water (figure 3). In nature, these bats will roost in holes and crevices within caves, walls, buildings and trees. In order to improve the habitat for bats, artificial roosts have been put into place in several locations and more are planned for the future. These bat boxes are hung on walls or trees and simulate the small crevices which small bats like to crawl into to roost (figure 4).


Figure 3


Figure 4 – One of the bat boxes placed along the White Cart Water

Already, two of the bat boxes positioned earlier this year have bat faeces and staining near the entrance showing that they are in use by bats and hopefully greatly appreciated by them!.

Birds

There are a great many bird species that live, feed and breed along the White Cart Water wildlife corridor. These include common favourites such as mallards, blackbirds and jackdaws. In addition, however, there are species which are less common in the UK as a whole but which are flourishing along the White Cart. These include the dipper (figure 5), kingfishers (figure 6) and grey wagtails (figure 7).


Figure 5 – A dipper


Figure 6 – A kingfisher


Figure 7 – A grey wagtail

All of these birds are uncommon in the UK and two are listed as having amber conservation status. Kingfishers have special protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981). None of these birds like to nest in trees but instead either nest on small ledges on walls or under bridges or, as with kingfishers, in tunnels dug into the riverbank. In order to improve habitat for these species, special bird boxes are planned or have been positioned along the walls or under bridges for these special birds (figure 8).


Figure 8 – Dipper bird nesting box placed under a bridge


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