Canal Trust plants reeds to stop ruffled feathers in Limehouse Cut

Engineers... setting up home for canal birds

Engineers... setting up home for canal birds - Credit: Archant

Reeds are being planted along the Limehouse Cut to help birds nesting by the canal in east London which have been having a rocky time from passing boats ruffling their feathers.

Baskets of pre-planted reeds are being attached along the sides which will absorb the lapping waves from the boats bouncing off the concrete walls that can overturn or flood the nests.

The Canal & River Trust is hoping this will absorb the waves so that coots, moorhen, ducks and other waterfowl will be able to nest undisturbed along the three-mile waterway linking the Limehouse Basin with the Lea River at Bromley-by-Bow.

“This will encourage ecological diversity and create a green have for wildlife,” the trust’s Leela O’Dea said. “The Limehouse Cut is one of our more urban waterways which is being ‘greened up’ to provide a safe place for a whole host of birds to nest.”

The trust has been given £6,000 of materials and the manpower to install the reed beds by the Land & Water dredging company, which was busy keeping the Lea River free of weeds during last summer’s Olympics.

Now the company is switching attention to the Limehouse Cut, along a 300ft stretch from Bow Common Bridge towards Limehouse.

Their ecology engineer Mike Osborne explained: “The birds are very adaptable and will build nests anywhere.

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“But we want to make the old concrete pile walls more natural and inviting—so we’re putting in mesh cages with rolls of coconut matting, pre-planted with Norfolk Reed and other indigenous reeds.

“That should make the birds feel comfortable when they nest.”

The reeds will shoot roots into the water that will provide habitat for insects such as dragonfly and damselflies, as well as making feeding and spawning areas for fish—the nesting birds will be grateful for that.