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What to Look Out For

The River Taff - Creatures Great and Small

Much of the wildlife here is difficult to spot, some is not even visible to the naked eye, but large or small, all are vital parts of the river ecosystem and perform an important role and function.

Caddisflies -Aquatic Architects

Caddisfly larva feed on tiny particles of algae and plant matter, or other small river creatures, and their talent for home-building makes them one of our more interesting river invertebrates.

The cased-caddis weaves a web of silk and river materials such as gravel, sand and plants, to create a portable tubular home.  This rigid case provides protection and camouflage, and an internal pumping action delivers oxygen to the larva's gills.  The cased-caddis is able to live in still waters, whereas their caseless counterparts are restricted to rivers where the current can deliver oxygen to their gills.

The Dipper

Caddisfly are a favourite food of Dippers, plump little birds remarkable in their ability to walk along underwater on the river-bed.  Using strong wings and claws, they are able to resist the current and grasp underwater rocks, defying their own buoyancy to search for underwater prey.

Keep a look out for this bird's characteristic 'dipping' motion as they perch on rocks,
or for their bright white breast which gives them their welsh name, Bronwen-y-Dwr - White Breast of the Water.

The Kingfisher

These unmistakable birds can occasionally be seen darting up and down the river here, each one covering over a kilometre of territory.

The kingfisher lays two or three clutches of eggs each year, hidden at the end of a long tunnel excavated into the bank.  Each clutch will yield around seven chicks, needing up to eighteen fish a day each. 
Every day during the breeding season, the kingfisher will need to consume its own body-weight in food, as well as catching over 100 minnows and sticklebacks for its hungry brood of chicks.

Grey heron

These statuesque birds are a common sight along the river, crouching near the banks or stalking through shallow waters.  Feeding mostly feed on fish, herons hunt with their heavy dagger-like beak, but will also take insects, amphibians, small mammals, and even small birds and chicks.

Although usually solitary, herons gather together when breeding to form a 'heronry' of several large platform-like nests, high in the trees.  When all of the eggs have hatched, a heronry can become a noisy place indeed!

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Tel: 01685 727474
Last updated: 30.03.2012
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