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Water habitats given a boost

28th May 2012

Water dwelling wildlife on the Waitrose dairy farms will have welcomed the recent rain after reports of the wettest April for over 100 years.

This timely boost to farms’ ponds and streams is hoped to fuel a continued rise in sightings of wildlife species that need a clean water environment.

 “Over the last six years, increases in sightings of kingfishers, dragonflies and other wildlife dependent on watery habitats have shown that species are thriving on Waitrose dairy farms.  This reflects the high standard of water quality and habitat provided by the farmers,” comments Tim Oliver, who heads up the retailer led wildlife scheme WildCare, which operates on 60 Waitrose dairy farms supplying essential Waitrose milk and cream.

Ponds provide great value to wildlife and many of the Waitrose dairy farms have one or more on their holdings. “Two years of low rainfall means that water tables have dropped to worryingly low levels across much of England. The recent heavy rain has filled many ponds and is providing at least some short-term relief.

“This is excellent news for the wildlife which is dependent on habitats near to, or in, the water,” comments Tim.  “It is important that a variety of water sources is maintained across the farms as different species require a range of habitats.

“For example, the dipper needs fast flowing clean water that is favoured by its insect prey, while dragonflies prefer to lay eggs in slow moving or still water. All of these habitats are ultimately dependent on rainfall,” informs Tim.

Although otters are notoriously difficult to see due to their shy nature and nocturnal habits, there are signs that they are also beginning to take advantage of the aquatic habitats on offer across the dairy farms.

“The variety of wildlife using water across the dairy farms that supply Waitrose via Dairy Crest, is a real credit to the participating farmers and testimony to the excellent habitat they maintain and the good farming practices they employ,” concludes Tim.

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