A very special environment
The Pocklington Canal forms part of an area that is of national and international importance for wildlife. The canal itself has natural banking, used by water voles, and far more aquatic plants than most of our canals. Reeds, along the margin of sections of the canal, provide a habitat for nesting birds.
Thirteen species of damselflies and dragonflies have been recorded on the canal and the Pocklington Canal is recognised as particularly important for the red-eyed damselfly. The male is easily recognised by its prominent reddish brown eyes and blue band near the tail, and there are plenty to be seen when the sun shines.
Swans attract a lot of interest. Moorhen and coot often manage to hide their nests in the vegetation lining the banks but a swan's nest is too big to hide.
Yellow water lilly grow prolifically on the navigable section of the canal and they are at their best in June and July. The canal supports many aquatic plants including fan-leaved water crowfoot, hornwort and lesser water plantain.
Near where it joins the River Derwent, the Pocklington Canal borders Wheldrake Ings, a National Nature Reserve. The Ings land floods and is of considerable importance for wintering wildfowl. The Pocklington Canal is only part of a very special environment.
Take your binoculars and a camera
The Pocklington Canal is good place to see barn owls. They have been helped here and in the Lower Derwent Valley by provision of barn owl boxes. We sometimes see barn owls during boat trips from the Melbourne Arm. The best time to see barn owls are in the evening, as the light fades, or at dawn.
Kingfishers are unmistakable, producing a flash of iridescent blue when they fly along the canal. If you are lucky a kingfisher may appear several times or be seen perched on a branch overhanging the canal.
Grey heron can occasionally be seen beside the canal. Like kingfishers, moorhen and coot, they contribute to the character of our canals.
The distinctive call of curlew is among the fascinating sounds to be heard on the Pocklington Canal.
Top ten for wildlife
The Pocklington Canal is one of the top sites for spotting wildlife on waterways managed by the Canal & River Trust.
More recently, John Craven of BBC Countryfile has chosen the Pocklington Canal as best for wildlife in his top ten British canals. The link shows the cover of the magazine but the content is no longer online.