Is it a bat, is it a bird... Spectacular snaps shows cormorant getting airborne
It looks more like a giant bat than a bird.
These spectacular photos of a cormorant taking off from a Shropshire canal were taken by Graham Mitchell on one of his regular walks around the beauty spots of the Oswestry area.
He spotted the huge black bird on the Montgomery Canal close to the Aston Locks near Queens Head on Saturday.
Mr Mitchell said the arrival of the species, hated by anglers because of the amount of fish they take from waterways, proved that wildlife along the canal was thriving.
"It was very close to the new nature reserve that is being built alongside the Montgomery Canal," he said.
"I walk along there frequently and it is the first time I have seen a cormorant. They fascinate me as they look more like a bat than a bird. There is something very prehistoric about them."
"That part of the canal is teeming with wildlife. I will often spot a kingfisher and I saw a spotted woodpecker in the trees recently."
The new nature reserve is part of a new £4 million project to restore the canal to a fully usable waterway for boaters for the first time in 80 years.
The work is being carried out by the Canal and River Trust and is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. It is also being supported by the Montgomery Canal Partnership.
Rare aquatic plants have helped the canal to be designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The new three-hectare nature reserve within the existing Aston Lock reserve will allow the plants to thrive when narrowboats start using the section of canal.
The site, which is expected to be complete by winter 2017, will also be home for a range of wildlife including damselflies, dragonflies, otters and water voles and attract a range of bird species.
Alongside the creation of the reserve, a further one and a quarter miles of the canal, from Welshampton to Crickheath in Shropshire, will be restored to navigation.
A dedicated turning point for narrowboats, known as a ‘winding hole’, will also be created, enabling boats to return to the area for the first time since 1936 when the canal was closed and five miles of towpath will be restored.
Around half of the canal is currently navigable and, with the help of Shropshire Union Canal Society volunteers, this latest major phase should be completed by 2020.
Known for its outstanding natural beauty, wildlife and heritage, the Montgomery Canal runs for 35 miles between Newtown and the junction with the Llangollen Canal at Lower Frankton near Ellesmere.