February 3rd – I was out unexpectedly early, so I left work while it was still light. The sharp wind was drying out the towpaths, so I hopped onto the canal at Aldridge to get a break from the traffic of the school run.
Passing the drain sluice near the Big House at Clayhanger, I noticed something I hadn’t previously. I always thought that if the sluice were opened, it would drain the canal onto the gardens below, as early pictures show this sluice feeding an open channel.
Now the leaves are off the trees, I see there’s actually a drain shaft on the embankment through the trees a few yards away that it must flow into; one assumes this is connected to the common drain for the area.
I’d always wondered why that sluice wasn’t better locked than it is.
August 28th – This is an odd thing. This sluice is built into the canal bank, overlooking the Big House in Clayhanger, and was once (and presumably, still is) a drain point for the canal, with the mechanism blocked out of use. I reckoned it must be redundant, as if opened, it would appear to drain onto the garden beneath it. However, in the last few weeks, someone has been and inspected it, removed the plate covering the mechanics, and greased the gears. Perhaps it’s still functional, and doesn’t drain to the open but to some kind of culvert.
Anybody know for sure?
April 25th – Scooting home along the canal, I stopped to look at a well-worn, narrow path running down from Clayhanger Bridge, down on to the driveway of the big house. I think it’s a deer run.
A few times I’ve seen deer on Clayhanger Common around the overflow, whereupon they’ve escaped either under the bridge, or over the road and run down the embankment here. Looking at the marshy land behind the house and new pool, the vegetation there looks closely cropped. I think some of the deer are loafing there, safe from humans.
May 2nd – First of the year. These four healthy cygnets are with their mum near the central island on the new pond in Clayhanger, behind the big house. Safe from foxes and predators, they should be fine. The pair nested in the reeds near the island. Four isn’t a huge clutch, but it’s respectable. I was 30 metres away on the opposite side of the pool, with dad hissing at me from the other side of the reed bed. He wasn’t screwing around.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Swan up the canal at the back of Sadler Road was fast asleep on her nest, no sign of hatching there, yet…