The wonderful water vole
The highly territorial water vole is one of the many furry creatures that reside in the Gwent Levels. Previously a common sight in this area, the European water vole has suffered catastrophic declines in past years, partly due to a loss of habitat. Gwent Wildlife Trust has done a fantastic job of reintroducing the species to the area and ongoing surveys show that the population is doing well – for now. The species is championed in the National Assembly for Wales by Assembly Member for Newport East, John Griffiths.
Did you know: Water voles eat approximately 80% of their body weight every single day.
All hail the king diving beetle!
As well as rare birds and cute creatures, the area also homes a range of fascinating creepy crawlies. One of the UK’s largest beetles, the king diving beetle is as rare as they come with the Gwent Levels population being the only known in Wales. Other rare beetles under threat by the M4 include the metallic Musk beetle and the great silver water beetle – another species that is currently endangered.
Did you know: There has been only been around twelve sightings of the king diving beetle ever in Wales.
The not so common crane
Despite its name, the common crane is a rare sight here in Wales and indeed throughout the UK. The Gwent Levels is the home of the first pair of common cranes to breed in Wales in over 400 years. The pair were last spotted just under a year ago but there are fears that the M4 motorway could see the local extinction of this once native bird yet again.
Did you know: The common crane displays a dramatic courtship ritual which includes dancing, screaming and throwing vegetation in the air.
The beautiful barn owl
The much-loved barn owl has also been spotted flying low several times over the Gwent Levels. This distinctive bird is a famously silent hunter and they swoop down on their prey, which includes mice and shrews. Barn owls are specially protected in the UK and despite once being widespread, they have suffered declines in the last 100 years due to the use of pesticides and agricultural intensification.
Did you know: A wild Barn Owl usually eats about 4 small mammals every night – that’s 1,460 per year!
The excellent otter
With their webbed feet and dense fur to keep them warm, the otter is among the Gwent Levels’ best swimmers. The otter is a rare but widespread animal, which is recovering after catastrophic decline throughout much of Britain in the 1950s and ‘60s. It is classed as ‘Near Threatened’ by International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Did you know: Otters can close their ears and nose when underwater and are in the water by 10 weeks of age.
The shrill carder bumblebee
One of the rarest bumblebee species in the UK, the shrill carder bumble only has five populations left, with the Gwent Levels being one of the strongest. Listed as a priority species under the Environment (Wales) Act 2016, only the almost extinct Short-haired bumblebee is considered rarer than this one.
Did you know: The shrill carder bumblebee gets its name because of the high, loud pitched buzz that its queens produce.
It’s clear to see that the Gwent Levels is home to some truly fascinating species and that going ahead with the M4 will have devastating consequences for their future. It isn’t too late to help them – add your name to this petition today and don’t forget to keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter accounts for more information on how you can support our campaign.
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