Page last updated at 01:16 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Wildlife 'treasures' on waterways

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) - Photograph from Charlie McCartney
This year's British Waterways survey focused on dragonflies and damselflies

Scotland's canal network is home to numerous rare and unusual species, according to the latest British Waterways wildlife survey.

The fifth study recorded more than 3,000 sightings of wildlife across the UK, with more than 1,000 in Scotland - up from 104 last year.

Sightings here ranged from herons, coots and bats, to mink, otter and water voles.

Damselflies, dragonflies and two terrapins were also reported.

This year's survey focused on dragonflies and damselflies.

Of more than 350 spotted across the UK, 52 of these were in Scotland.

British Waterway ecologists said the presence of these colourful insects was a key indicator of good water quality and a healthy local ecosystem.

'Vital habitats'

The 2008 survey also found that mallards and swans were the most commonly sighted species in Scotland.

Frogs have become the third most spotted animal north of the border.

Although rare, five water voles were recorded, along with 12 mink.

Dr Olivia Lassiere, environment manager at British Waterways Scotland, said: "Scotland's waterways provide vital habitats in urban and rural areas for a wide range of animals, from bats and badgers to dragonflies and water voles.

"It is encouraging to see that the 2008 survey includes stunning kingfishers, ancient living fossil dragonflies and damselflies and threatened water voles."

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