Nature & Wildlife

A Guide by Wyvern Shipping

Mallard Ducks, a regular sight on the UK's canals and riversA Kingfisher, a regular sight on England's canalsAn otter, occasionally spotted on the canal bankSmall Copper Butterfly, as found on the UK's waterwaysWater Lillies are often found on the UK's waterwaysOne of the joys of hiring a canal boat for a relaxing holiday is seeing the abundant wildlife as you meander through the meadows and villages of rural England. You may be surprised to learn that you're likely to see more than just ducks and swans when on a Wyvern narrow boat holiday! Here we give you a guide to what you can expect to see when cruising along the canals and rivers of the UK.


Of course, the Mallard Duck (pictured) can always be seen in large numbers whichever part of the canal system you're on! In the Spring and early Summer months, you can also see families of ducks swimming around with cute little ducklings!

The gracious Swan is also a common sight, as is the Canada Goose, the Coot (black with white beaks) and the Moorhen (black with red beaks). These birds are all at home swimming on the canal's surface as narrow boats and cruisers trundle past.

Some birds hunt the fish that inhabit the glistening waterways; look out for the elegant blue Kingfisher (pictured), the large Cormorant and the skilful Grey Heron.


Small waterside mammals are often milling around the canal and riverbanks, but are harder to spot. Keep a keen eye out for any of these on your narrow boat holiday: Otters (pictured), Badgers, Water Voles, Stoats, Polecats and Dormice.

As well as the wild mammals, look out for the fields full of grazing animals that are a common sight in rural England. Pastures full of Sheep and Cows are a regular sight, as are Horses, with the occasional Goat and brood of Chickens.

Insects & Amphibians

The following all love to be around water: Butterflies, Newts, Frogs, Damselflies, Dragonflies and Grasshoppers.


Countless different species of fish live within the waters of the UK's canals and rivers. There are too many to list here, but, to offer a few examples, you might see swimming just beneath the surface schools of Carp, Roach, Perch and Gudgeon, as well as the occasional Goldfish!


An almost constant companion to the country's waterways is the waterside tree, giving shade on sunny days and providing a home for birds and other wildlife. The types of trees that are particularly common on the riverbank are Weeping Willows, with their dramatic draping leaves, majestic Oak trees and Maples, along with many others.


Plenty of wild flowers dot the landscape as you meander through the idyllic countryside, especially in the spring and summer. 

Find Out More

If you fancy exploring the English canals first-hand, taking in its varied sights and lush wildlife, how about going on a Wyvern Shipping canal boat holiday? Explore this very website to find out more!

To find out more about the wildlife and nature of the UK's canals and rivers, please visit these online resources:
The Nature section of the Canal & River Trust website

Picture credits: Mallard Ducks by JotaCartas, Kingfisher by Tony Wood, Otter by Dbhack88, Small Copper Butterfly by Evelyn Simak, Water Lillies by Zivya.
All pictures sourced from Wikimedia Commons.