Floating islands provide wildlife sanctuaries

Anglian Water workers put one of the floating islands in place at Pitsford Reservoir
Anglian Water workers put one of the floating islands in place at Pitsford Reservoir

Nesting birds and other wildlife are set to benefit from 60 floating islands commissioned by Anglian Water at Pitsford Water reservoir.

The two-metre islands are plant-filled rafts anchored by adjustable cables and weights and each one provides shelter for birds to nest, as well as vital protection from the elements and predators.

Mike Drew, Anglian Water’s biodiversity action plan scientist, said: “The reservoir is really important for breeding birds like coots, moorhen, little grebes and great crested grebes which rely on the habitats found around the water’s edge to breed.

“The recent drought saw water levels drop by to just 60 per cent of normal levels and much of that water’s edge habitat was lost. These islands will provide stable habitat, which will be unaffected by changing water levels as well giving cover to fish and aquatic invertebrates.”

The reservoir forms part of the 750-acre Pitsford nature reserve, designated as a site of special scientific interest since 1970 because of the rare birds and wildlife that inhabit the site.

Opened in 1956 by the Queen Mother, the reservoir supplies water to Northampton, as well as parts of Daventry and Brixworth.

Mr Drew said: “Pitsford Reservoir has a strong royal connection, having been opened by the Queen Mother. When we were looking at how many rafts to build as part of this project, we decided on 60, one for each year of The Queen’s reign, as a novel way to mark the Diamond Jubilee.”

Pitsford nature reserve, jointly run by Anglian Water and the Wildlife Trust, is commercially operated and events and activities which run throughout the year, including fishing, birdwatching, walks, cycling and boat trips. There is also holiday accommodation.

The reserve is self-funding, with the income helping to fund important conservation work.