THE Canal & River Trust has been completing improvements to the famous Caen Hill flight of locks on the Kennet & Avon Canal that will enhance the habitat for the dragonflies, kingfishers, water voles and fish that live there.
Each of the locks on the flight has a small reservoir of water next to it. Built to stop the canal running dry and still serving that purpose today, each reservoir (or side pond) has also become a mini nature reserve that’s home to a diverse range of wildlife.
To keep the water in the ponds clear and as good for wildlife as possible, the Canal & River Trust has been replacing a number of the two-metre deep mesh curtains that act as giant sieves up and down the flight to stop silt stirred up by boat propellers from entering the ponds.
Wearing waders, a specialist team has been attaching the new barriers at the entrance of each of the ponds. Once in position the weighted barriers are then anchored into position to ensure they stay in the correct position and don’t float away.
Laura Mullholland, from the Canal & River Trust, said: “In the summer the side ponds at Caen Hill are brimming with life and colour creating a real buzz along the canal. These new barriers will improve the water quality in the ponds as they will help filter the out mud and silt churned up by boats passing through the locks.
“Having clean freshwater habitats alongside the canal attracts a wide variety of animals, insects and birds – everything from dragonflies to kingfishers. The lock flight is a great place for nature and people.”