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Habitats  - River

The River and its surrounding area supports a wealth of wildlife from insects and birds, to fish and large mammals such as the Otter. The River quality has improved in the last few decades, from the days when ‘the rivers ran black’.

Large fish such as Salmon and Trout are able to migrate up the Taff to spawn, an achievement that may have been considered impossible a few years ago due to obstructions such as weirs. New fish passes, such as the one in Merthyr Tydfil Town Centre, have been installed along the Taff to help spawning fish reach their destination upstream. The abundance of these fish is an indicator of how healthy the river system is nowadays.

River birds:

Some of the most distinctive river animals are birds such as Dipper, Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail and Heron. The Dipper is a distinctive bird (brown/black with a white bib), found on rapid flowing upland rivers, which will perch on rocks in the river habitually bobbing its’ body, then diving into the river and walking under water to catch its’ prey. The Dipper likes to nest under bridges, and you may see it flying low over the river.

If you’re lucky you may see the brilliantly coloured kingfisher with its’ azure blue back and rusty red breast, and its’ rapid flight straight over the water – it may appear as more of a flash of bright blue. Or, you may see one perched above the river looking for small fish to prey on. You’re also sure to see the little yellow and grey bobbing wagtail at the waters’ edge.

Also look out for the elegant form of the Grey Heron in flight. In winter, you might spot Goosander on the faster stretches of the river. This ‘Saw-billed’ duck probably once bred on the Taff, but now is only an annual visitor.