Inspiration Wildlife

Big Tidy Up for birds in Leicester canal


22 May 2010

Big Tidy Up volunteers
Big Tidy Up volunteers, Photograph by Alex Hannam Leicester Mercury

As a sound artist creating site specific walks and installations, I am inspired by my surroundings and have recently discovered a passion for wild life, in particular birds, identifying and learning birdsongs. The canal is home to a range of birds; Coots, Mute Swans, Moorhens, Canadian geese, Herons, Mallards and Wood Pigeons.

I wanted to find out how I could help to clean the canal and whose responsibility it was to keep it clean.

It turns out that the Leicester City Council have a department that is responsible for clearing the canal of rubbish at certain times of the year. My query was passed onto the Riverside Rangers and a date was set to clean the canal.

The initial idea to clean the canal was inspired during a regular journey through the Rally Park, to the train station. Walking past the canal (Evans Weir) that runs along the Rally Park in Leicester, It’s hard to not notice the large pockets of rubbish accumulating at the edge of the canal and in particular trapped within the basin. It is obvious that the canal has been neglected and used as a dumping ground for litter and unwanted objects for years. Not only is the canal at some points unsightly but the smell in the summer is over powering.

As part of this clean up I registered the event under The Big Tidy Up website, in the hope that this activity would raise awareness of the importance of our green spaces and wild life, but to also make the public aware that there are ways in which they can help out.

The Big Tidy Up team initially planned to clean the canal from Abbey Park to the Rally Park, but because the water was so full of rubbish, we decided to do a more through job within the Abbey park area.  The team worked for 4 hours to collect 30 bags of rubbish and a list of objects that were too large to put into bags, including: 1 shopping trolley, 1 car bumper, several large pieces of plywood, 3 wooden pallets, 1 road sign, 1 callagas bottle, 1 pram, 1 children’s electric powered bike and 6 car tyres!

The Big Tidy up team featured in the Leicester Mercury (Tuesday 25 May p12) and I had an interview with BBC Radio Leicester.

For more photographs from the Big Tidy Up canal clean up please go to the official Big Tidy Up website.

Lucy Stevens is an artist whose environmental soundscapes and visual art investigates the relationship between humanity and nature.

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