This morning started cool, so I donned my normal jacket and wellies for my walk along the canal. Within a couple of miles I realised that I should have dressed for summer; it feels like the warmest day of the year.
Last Wednesday on our work party at Chaddington, we spotted a proud Mallard duck with her unruly brood of nine ducklings, hatched a day or two earlier.
This morning I counted them all, and they were far more disciplined. Luckily, the dogs have now got over the novelty of chasing ducks; after all, they never succeeded in catching any last year.
The ducklings set off in a tight formation worthy of the Red Arrows – not bad for less than a week old.
Their food is growing rapidly, with hundreds of new leaves of yellow water-lilies ready to spread across both restored stretches. We’ll have our work cut out by June keeping the growth under control.
The swans started making their nest a few weeks ago by the culvert at Bincknoll Lane, and they’ve been sitting on it for a good ten days. This morning, they obliged by revealing what must be at least five huge eggs, and gently turned them over before settling down again. Are they planning to beat last year’s record of 8 cygnets?
On our return walk to the Templar’s Firs end, there was quite a gang of Mallard drakes where Hancock’s Water joins the canal. We haven’t had any significant rain for so many days that the canal was still; no water flowing in at the moment.
However, in readiness for the rains to come, the Environment Agency is currently installing telemetry equipment for a two-year monitoring exercise.
Yesterday at the attenuation bund north of the railway, I noted that concrete had recently been poured around pipework connected with the project.
In thirty years, the flood storage area has yet to store any flood water – but instead the storm-water seems to flow down the hillside towards the canal avoiding the earthworks designed to stop it. The EA will be installing similar equipment at other points including at the spill-weir where Hancock’s Water leaves the canal in order to build up a complete picture.
The angling association is convinced that the building work at Woodshaw Meadows is silting-up the canal right along its restored length, forcing the anglers to adjust their gear for the shallower depth. I advised their secretary to report their fears in writing so that we can use it as evidence of the damage being caused.
No fishermen this morning; the canal-side hedgerow’s now flowering with white and pink blooms.
They certainly look better than some other ornaments in the hedgerows.
This week, I’ve retrieved dog poo bags dangling from the trees.
Bearing in mind that on Wiltshire Council-owned land there can be a £1,000 fine for not clearing up dog poo, does a bag dangling from a branch constitute a ‘hanging offence’?