British river wildlife

This video from the Netherlands is called Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), Wageningen 13 January 2006.

6 October 2011.

From Wildlife Extra:

UK river wildlife survey results

Kingfishers returning to most UK river banks

October 2011. Nearly two thirds of wildlife spotters have seen kingfishers along their local river, according to a new survey.

The online river wildlife survey was carried out by the Our Rivers campaign – a partnership between the RSPB, the WWF, the Angling Trust and the Salmon and Trout Association – with the help of hundreds of amateur nature enthusiasts. The results show 60 per cent of respondents reported sightings of kingfishers, despite the species suffering sharp declines in two recent harsh winters.

Mallards top the list

The most popular wildlife sightings on our rivers are mallard ducks – which were recorded by 80 per cent of respondents – followed by herons (74 per cent), damselflies (65 per cent) and swans (64 per cent).

Otters & Mink

Otters have been seen by 20 per cent of river wildlife watchers, but the same number of respondents also reported seeing American mink, a non-native species which is threatening riverbank ecosystems. One of the species most threatened by mink, the watervole, was spotted by 17 per cent of people.

The survey highlighted the differences in river wildlife populations in different parts of the country. Otter sightings dropped to just 3 per cent in the south east of England but fared much better in south west England (33 per cent) and Wales (40 per cent).


Sightings for fish saw large variations across different regions with trout faring badly in south east England (22 per cent) and East Anglia (17 per cent) but doing better in Wales (68 per cent) and south west England (55 per cent). Salmon were seen by 45 per cent of Welsh respondents but just one per cent of people from East Anglia.

RSPB head of water policy Rob Cunningham, speaking on behalf of the Our Rivers campaign, said: “It has been fantastic to see the hundreds of responses to our online survey and hear about species people have recorded on their local rivers.

River wildlife species recorded by respondents:

Mallard 80%

Heron 74%

Damselfly 65%

Swan 64%

Kingfisher 60%

Moorhen 58%

Dragonfly 55%

Coot 50%

Canada goose 43%

Trout 40%

Grey wagtail 32%

Dipper 25%

Otter 20%

Mink 20%

Watervole 17%

Salmon 16%

“This paints a fascinating picture of our native freshwater wildlife, from watervoles and otters to salmon and herons. And it also shows that there is an army of wildlife lovers out there who are passionate about their local rivers and the amazing species they support.

“There is so much to see from a riverbank – and one of the most spectacular sights is the blue flash of a kingfisher diving from a branch into the water below. Kingfishers are one of the species most vulnerable when temperatures plunge and with two harsh winters back to back we know their numbers took a hit. But our survey tallies with other reports showing that kingfishers are bouncing back.”

Angling Trust chief executive Mark Lloyd added: “Our rivers are improving, but three quarters are still failing European targets for water quality and in many waterways wildlife is under threat from a range of pressures.

Pollution concerns

The survey also asked people about environmental threats to rivers. More than two thirds (67 per cent) of people said they were concerned about water pollution from agricultural chemicals, while half of respondents said over abstraction and litter were causes for concern.

“The Government’s upcoming Water White Paper will set out how we will care for our rivers in the coming years , but there is a real fear that it will be a paper exercise with big issues like reducing water use, tackling damaging water abstraction and dealing with pollution from urban runoff and farming being kicked into the long grass.”

Nearly 1,500 Our Rivers supporters have written to Environment Minister Richard Benyon calling on him to take tougher action in the Water White Paper. Members of the public can still get involved by visiting and sending their own letter.

Counties most in touch with their rivers (no. respondents who visit their river more than once a week):

1 Surrey

2 Devon

3 Greater London

4 Hampshire

5 North Yorkshire

6 Hertfordshire

7 Oxfordshire

8 Berkshire

9 Cambridgeshire

10 West Yorkshire

Best county to spot a:

Kingfisher – Devon
Otter – Devon
Watervole – Hampshire

Best river to spot a:

Kingfisher – Thames (Oxfordshire and Berkshire)
Otter – Itchen
Watervole – Itchen

Leucistic Mallard duck in Ohio: here.

October 2011: Wildlife spotters are being urged to get online and report sightings of the UK’s fastest-declining mammal, the water vole: here.

January 2012. The enigmatic water vole may be associated with our water and river systems but scientists have revealed it is it thriving almost 700 metres up a Scottish hill: here.

April 2012. Water voles have reappeared at Kent Wildlife Trust’s (KWT) Hothfield Heathlands. KWT have been looking out for these charismatic rodents for a number of years now, expecting them to turn up along the river, or living in the long ditches that run from the bottom of the bogs. However, much to the surprise of KWT, they have popped up at the other end of the reserve, living in the highest area, sandwiched between a road and some intensively grazed fields! Here.

Look what’s struggling to swim the Thames now… trout. Previously filthy watercourses are now teeming with fish, a new book reveals: here.

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