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Wildlife thrives at nature reserves during lockdown

Monday 18th May 2020 11:00

A water vole eating

Wildlife including birds, bees and even snakes has continued to flourish at Thames Water works and nature reserves during the coronavirus crisis.

While many sites have been closed to the public during the lockdown period, dozens of species of animals have been busy making their homes and raising their young as spring arrives.

Thames Water helps support wildlife across its sites by installing artificial nests for some species or protecting and enhancing the essential habitats upon which others depend.

Ian Crump, Thames Water’s biodiversity field officer, said: “While the world continues to be disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s reassuring to know that wildlife is still flourishing at our sites.

“We’re proud of the number of different species that call our operational works, nature reserves and other facilities home and ensuring they have the right habitat to thrive is an important part of what we do.

“We look forward to welcoming back visitors to see these stunning animals and plants in person once it is safe to do so.”

Peregrine falcons, the world’s fastest animal which can reach speeds of 200mph whilst hunting, barn owls and buzzards are among the birds of prey to have been spotted at Beckton sewage works in East London and the neighbouring nature reserve. A mating pair of kestrels even used the site’s purpose-made nesting box to raise their chicks, while herons can also be seen on site. 

Reptiles habitats at sites including Swindon sewage treatment works and Kempton nature reserve have also provided homes for slow worms and grass snakes, while marsh frogs, which make a distinctive call that sounds like laughter, have been seen, and heard, at the reserve.

As flowers start to bloom, many species of bee and other pollinating insects have also been spotted, including mating green-veined white and green hairstreak butterflies at Crossness nature reserve in Bexley.

Thames Water has more than 100 sites open to the community, runs five nature reserves and two recreational fisheries as well as supporting a further 22 in partnership with environmental groups such as Wildlife Trusts.

Many of these stopped accepting visitors as the pandemic grew in order to reduce the risk of passing on the virus.

Following last week’s government announcement, Thames Water has been able to open up a number of nature reserve for members, with visitors urged to follow social distancing guidelines.

The company is working hard to open other sites over the coming weeks where possible, though visitor numbers will be limited.

Those working in the water and sewerage industry have been identified by the government as key workers and Thames Water will continue to carry out essential work during the coronavirus outbreak.

Customers can expect to see the company’s engineers working in their communities to maintain essential water and wastewater services during the pandemic and prevent problems in the future.