Why the need for a swan nesting raft? Deptford Creek has since the 19th century been enclosed by river walls. Prior to this, since the medieval period there have been earth walls created to claim land suitable for farming from the marshland which was the dominant vegetation along the north Kent coast. So especially since the Victorian period the nesting opportunities for river birds such as the Mute Swan have been severely limited by lack of suitable places to nest. Therefore, to attract and be able to enjoy such species we at Creekside along with a good friend of the Creek Trust - ALF have for the last approx. 10 years maintained a breeding raft which rises and falls with the tide.  

The raft has proved to be a remarkable success, with many broods of cygnets being raised over the years. There was one year in 2020 when they did not nest however this was because Canada Geese used the raft. This was when the current male, Canard, was inexperienced and has since been vigilant in chasing away any suspicious looking geese! The Creek is however a sub-optimal habitat for nesting swans for several reasons. The first being that whereas in the days when there were no river walls in times when the river went into spate (the effect of daily continuous rain on river levels causing them to be high and fast) there is nowhere for the swans and their cygnets to shelter so can be washed out into the Thames. Also, cygnets can become stuck in the mud near the raft and may drown. 

Once at Creekside the raft was dismantled, reusable logs were kept, the base itself was too rotted to be salvaged and so disposed of. The original floats were taken off and replaced with more robust ones. 2 new sheets of marine ply were attached to the base and wire netting wrapped around edge of floats to prevent cygnets getting underneath. A ramp was also added as before to aid access. The new platform was then towed back to its previous position and logs were tied on.  

Once the raft had been in place for a couple of weeks we noticed that the ramp leading on to the raft was short by a couple of inches, so we went back and extended the ramp. Also mud was added to the entrance and sides of the raft to firstly weigh it down a little but also encourage plants can colonise. 

So, now completed, we await the judgment of our resident swans Canard and Queenie III.

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Tagged under: Wildlife