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Wildlife watching at Great Haywood

Wildlife watching at Great Haywood

By Kevin Yarwood, manager of Anglo Welsh’s Great Haywood canal boat rental base

Our narrowboat hire base, at the junction of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal and the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood in Staffordshire, is surrounded by countryside, trees and hedgerows, and consequently lots of wildlife too.

This year we took part in the RSPB’s annual Bird Garden Watch and spotted so many species of bird that the charity got in touch with us to check our findings.

From water birds like swans, ducks, coots, moorhens, cormorants, geese and kingfishers, to woodland and hedgerow birds like jays, sparrows, blue tits, great tits, bull finches, green finches, dunnocks and tree creepers, every day we see busy birds visiting the canal and our bird feeders.

We’ve also seen otters close by at the aqueduct, where the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal crosses the River Trent, hedgehogs and at dusk over the summer months we see bats whizzing across the water collecting their insect prey.

As well as working in this special place, I live here on a narrowboat with my family, so I’m passionate about protecting the waterway and the animals that rely on it.

For nearly two years, we’ve been selling aquatic-friendly ‘Poddy’ cleaning products, including a washing up liquid and multi-surface cleaner, in our boat yard shop.  Feedback from our customers is consistently excellent, with some asking if they can buy extra supplies to use every day at home, as well as on their narrowboat holiday.

The Canal & River Trust’s Plastics Challenge launched last May is something close to my heart and everyone here at Great Haywood is committed to keeping our own stretch of canal plastic free.  It really does make a difference if everyone works together to both litter pick any stray plastic on the towpath or in the water, and to reduce the amount of plastic we use in our everyday lives by making some simple switches like investing in re-useable drinks bottles and coffee cups.

We also have recycling facilities here at the boat yard and so canal boat holiday-makers who are keen to (and most are), can recycle at the end of their holiday.

This month we are delighted to be hosting a visit from our local primary school, so we are looking forward to passing on our love of the canal environment and all the animals and birds that depend upon it.