Plans for improving the ecology of Wapping Canal unveiled

Woo hoo! The Tower Habitats team have been busy and have come up with a plan to improve the ecology of Wapping canal with floating reed beds! The new flora and fauna will look similar to the new wildlife habitats in the Limehouse Cut at Bow Common Road.

Limehouse Cut reed beds

How did our Wildlife Rangers find out about this new development? By reading lamp posts along the canal of course! Cunning, huh?


All clear then? Good…. Oh. Yes. The whole ‘reading around corners’ thing. And there’s us all living in the information age with more tweets and digital hyper-normal augmented reality key rings than we can handle.

What the notice says is that the Council intends to carry out enhancements to the southern end of Wapping Canal, aka the straight bit that goes down to Waitrose and St. Katharine’s Dock (see photo below).

Wapping Canal from Vaughan Way looking north. Dock Wall on right.

As the canal wall is listed (no, not dangling at an angle you fool! Listed as in listed building. Keep up at the back.) nothing can be fiddled with on the wall itself – tell that to the swans – so the reeds will be placed in floating planters that, er, float.

Plan of Wapping Canal.

More reeds, less pong

The introduction of the reed beds will obviously make our splendid canal even more splendid to look at but will also make it a place where wildlife will flourish. Oh and will help reduce the occasional pong from the water.

And lots of nice people enjoying the canal should keep the ASB dregs of humanity people away too.

Very good news is that the horrible white plastic installed for the Tobacco Dock reed beds will not be used.

Wapping volunteers creating the reed beds by Tobacco Dock under the watchful eye of Chris.

Sure ’tis better to have reed beds with horrible white pipes than no reed beds at all as Shakespeare said but….

Your views count

Keith Woodard and his team at LBTH Parks Department are the people in charge and they want to hear your views, positive or negative, about the scheme.

You can get in touch with Keith via email, by phone 0207 364 7459 or by writing to him c/o Mile End Park, Locksley Street, London, E14 7EJ by Friday 8th September.

Cormorant fishing on Wapping canal, Tower Hamlets, London, E1W.

One problem that the reed beds at Tobacco Dock show is the need for continued community involvement. We can’t just dump them the reeds in the water and just wait for the birdies to turn up and everything to be lovely.

There is nothing our Rangers would like to do than work on this sort of project as opposed to having to write about all the political nonsense that happens in Tower Hamlets.

Shoveler duck (Anas clypeata) on Wapping Canal

In addition to creating the Tobacco Dock reed beds several nesting platforms were deployed. Problem being that they have not been used much – it at all.

One reason might be that the construction was not quite all it could be as you can see from this photo.

Knackered bird nest platform by Tobacco Dock.

As many have noticed there is still a distinct lack of wildlife on the canal, either at the Tobacco Dock end or the stretch down towards Waitrose.

Mr. Burns

Sure Mr. Burns is around and the two swans and some geese, Canadian and Egyptian, and a few ducks, coots and moorhens but that is about it. Quite a few fish in the water and crabs too. But you really have to look to find anything.

Many of the ducks, around 80 percent by our estimation, were poached from the canal and Shadwell Basin a few years back and the duck population has never recovered. Maybe some restocking is in order to help things along? And maybe some stones in the canal for fishes to breed, hide and live?

Swanicide. Is that a word?

The two swans who have lived on the canal dominate it and woe betide any other swan who intrudes on their territory as the resident swans will do their utmost to drown it. Last year our Rangers and several residents had to physically intervene when they saw this happening to stop a swanicide.

It might be that if more flora and fauna is introduced into the canal and so create more nesting spaces then the resident swans will become more tolerant of other birds as they will not see the entire canal as one big nest which is theirs.

We shall see.


Swan and gosling on Wapping Canal

We do not have full details as yet, although there is undoubtedly some more on the bendy bits of the notices, but we are sure Tower Habitats will help us and the team from Bow Landscaping make a success of the new look Wapping Canal.

“Reed beds? Any chance of some nice fishing perches by fast running water?” asks Kevin Kingfisher.

It’s your canal. What do you think?

To express your views get in touch with Keith Woodard via email, by phone 0207 364 7459 or by writing to him c/o Mile End Park, Locksley Street, London, E14 7EJ by Friday 8th September.



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