Local news for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets

Making Wapping canal a greener place for birds and people.

By on October 26, 2013 in Wildlife

One of the many things discussed on our second Wapping Wander was how we could look after our lovely canal and the birds who live there. We are very lucky to have such a diversity of wildlife in Wapping.

Canada Goose taking a stroll along Wapping canal.

Canada Goose taking a stroll along Wapping canal.

During the week I met Matthew Twohig who is Tower Hamlet’s Park Ranger in charge of the repairs and maintenance of all parks and open spaces in the borough. Matt is a Wapping boy (born on the Green Bank) and so knows the area very well.

Matt and his team are also the people responsible for getting the canal fixed.  Thanks guys!

Sit on this? You must be joking!

Sit on this? You must be joking!

This proved to be a complex and expensive project as the pumps for the canal are 71m underneath Wapping Woods. That’s around 16 – 20 stories down. Gulp.

We had a good talk about lots of things we could do but the main one was how Wapping residents could help make the canal a greener place for birds and people. While there is nothing really wrong with the canal it does need a little more care and attention.

So Matt and I agreed that our first project with Love Wapping working with Tower Hamlets should be replacing the frankly knackered bird platforms in the canal.

This should be fairly straightforward to do. Matt is going to get some costings together and see if it can be funded by Tower Hamlets or if we need to raise the money ourselves. If we do we will.

Coot chicks being reared on dilapidated bird platform.

Coot chicks being reared on dilapidated bird platform.

Give the Great Crested Grebes some sticks

Another simple thing to do that would help the birds would be to give them a helping human hand in the nesting season.

Swans need a bigger and better platform than this.

Swans need a bigger and better platform than this.

Last year Wapping Wildlife Rangers watched helpless as a pair of Great Crested Grebes tried and failed to nest in Shadwell Basin. They had chosen a spot behind a ladder but unfortunately they had nothing to build on so the nest became waterlogged and was eventually abandoned.

So Matt and I discussed simply placing bunches of sticks in appropriate spots from Hermitage all the way up the Thames at Shadwell that birds could then use to build a nest on top of. Maybe the chains that you can see just at the waterline.

And rather than just dumping new bird platforms in the water they should be anchored in the middle so they provide a safer place for the birds.

If we can find a platform big enough maybe the Canada Geese could live there instead of the canal pavement?

Of course others are already busy helping the wildlife in Wapping. I know the residents association at Hermitage do a very good job of looking after the water there and fund new bird platforms out of their own pockets.

And of course the Outdoor Activity Centre at Shadwell Basin do all sorts of things to help the wildlife.

So this is one of our first projects that we can hopefully get done in a few months so that next nesting season the birds of Wapping will be just a bit more comfortable.

Our back garden needs a bit of attention

Looking after the wildlife on the water in Wapping is just a part of some of the ideas we have to make the walk from Hermitage Basin to the Thames at Shadwell something really special for all to enjoy.

Most of us who live in Wapping and the surrounding area live in flats and so open spaces such as King Edward Memorial Park, Wapping Canal and Shadwell Basin are our back gardens.

A Green Flag for Wapping?

Maybe one day our canal and the basin could achieve Green Flag status? Now wouldn’t that be something? A first step would be to get our water looking like it does in Southwark, see photo below.

If you are interested in helping out with this project or any of our other projects please get in touch with us about volunteering and or come along to the next Wapping Wander on 17th November.

Not a penny

As with all our community work you get not a penny, you can’t claim for expenses or anything else. But you do get to contribute to our community. And that is reward enough don’t you think?

How they do things in Southwark. Note Egyptian Geese on platforms.

How they do things in Southwark. Note Egyptian Geese on platforms.


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