Fish Passage Restored!

Last year we were working on a fish passage project on the Wandle at Trewint Street, Earlsfield.

Although there are many weirs on the Wandle which impede the migration of fish Trewint Street is one of the largest, with two weirs either side of a large concrete channel. With funding from the Environment Agency, Thames Water and Defra’s Catchment Partnership Action Fund (CPAF), we have restored passage for fish and eels, allowing movement to upstream habitats.

So how did we achieve this?

A bespoke fish pass was designed by Fishtek and installed on the weir by local contractors Amenity Water Management (AWM).

At the top of the right hand weir, a series of recycled plastic baffles were fixed onto the weir. These deepen and slow the flow of water and as you can see from the picture below, the baffles are arranged with a diagonal gap up to the top. This is the path the fish use to swim up the weir.

Baffles

The baffles had to be fixed to the weir in dry conditions, and so sandbags were used to divert the water down the left hand weir, leaving the right hand side high and dry while our contractors worked. Watch the timelapse footage of AWM installing the baffles.

The second part of the fish pass were three large wooden pre-barrages at the bottom end of the island which were designed to slow the water down and reduce the drop in water level between the channel and the baffles.

Barrages going in

Each barrage was notched to create a path for migrating fish.

To makes sure the pass works in low flows a huge piece of wood (7m long!) was placed at the top of the left hand weir to divert water at low flow down the right hand side and the fish pass.  This ensures the pass works over a large range of flows.

Deflector and Eel Bristles

Bristles were fixed to each of the barrages to allow eel passage. Eel tiles were then fixed alongside the baffles on the concrete wall making the weir passable to both fish and European Eels.

A big thanks to our contractors AWM, landowner Mr Lammas and Thames Water, Defra and the Environment Agency for their funding.

Contractors

Wandle cleanup: January 2016: Wandsworth

The one where we worked so hard we finished early..

Firstly, a Happy New Year to everyone!

For the first cleanup of 2016, we returned to Trewint Street in Earlsfield following reports of fly-tipping in the river. However little did we know that the day before brought a huge downpour of rain, so when we arrived at 10am on Sunday morning, all the rubbish had been washed further downstream. Oh well, off we go!

To start off 2016, I decided to summarise what we had achieved as a group in 2015. In total, we had spent 2241 hours clearing the Wandle covering 6.6 km of the river with 595 volunteers pulling out 33 tonnes of rubbish. Amazing. Below you can see some of the highlights.

2015 in Cleanups

After the inspirational talk, it was time to get started. A team of brave waders climbed over the fence into the Wandle and headed downstream under the Trewint Street bridge. A mattress had been spotted a short wade away and everyone’s sights had been set on dragging this back up the river and hauling it out over the concrete bank. A great warm up, we all thought..

Mattress

Pulling the mattress may look simple enough but it actually took 6 of us hauling on the grapples and holding the mattress in the air while it drained away some of the water it had soaked up. Getting in on a wheelbarrow and to the rubbish pile was a whole new kettle of fish.

Mattress

Meanwhile, litter pickers had discovered the large pile of fly-tipping further down the Wandle Trail. This pile has been kindly re-stocked for every cleanup to date, but a team got stuck in and shifted all sorts to the rubbish pile including water barrels, flooring, fencing, garden furniture and a TV.

Fly tipping

As the day continued, the rubbish pile got bigger and bigger. Theo cleared the newly installed fish pass which had caught some branches in the recent high flows on the river. Without getting wet, he managed to remove the branches using the grappling hook, much like one of those grabber arcade games except there was no adorable cuddly toy prize at the end, before clambering down the ladder to dislodge the biggest branches by hand.

Wading

We stopped slightly early for lunch as we were all pretty cold and in need of a cup of tea. Sally Ann, Jackie and Ann had made some delicious cakes for us all which disappeared in no time. Before we got started again, we had a mini team meeting to work out what to do. The waders had cleared downstream of the bridge leaving only the upstream route which was known to be full of silt. Bravely, the waders got back in and headed towards Plough Lane.

Jane

Within 20 m, they were out again! The river was too deep and waders only reach so far up. So instead we all walked along the Wandle Trail looking for motorbikes from the banks. For once, we couldn’t see any!

Having already removed a huge pile of rubbish we decided to finish slightly early. We packed up the van and all headed home for a much needed warm shower.

Next month our cleanup falls on Valentine’s Day – so why not bring along a date! Who wants flowers and chocolates when you can wade in the Wandle and find yourself the perfect gift…

The Perfect Gift

So what did we find?  1 sodden mattress, 1 desk chair, 1 folding chair, 1 lounger, 1 kitchen chair, 1 picnic table, 1 TV, 1 dustbin, 1 gas canister, 1 push chair, 1 thermos, 1 rusty old air rifle, 1 clothes dryer, 1 heater, 3 traffic cones, 3 water barrels, 4 bicycles, lots and lots of fencing and miscellaneous flooring and bags and bags of other rubbish.

Huge thanks to Thames Water for funding the event, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Ann, Jackie and Sally Ann for catering for our volunteers, Wally & Theo for supervising with me and Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, and the Waste Management Team at Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abi, Alex, Andrea, Andy, Ann, Barry, Charles, Chris, Dave J, Dave W, Derek, Ed, George E, George N, Guy, Hamish, Hugo, Ian, Jackie, James, Jane B, Jane P, Jason, Joe, John, Karoline, Louise, Margie, Marina, Mark, Mike, Penny, Phil, Rianne, Rose, Sally Ann, Simon, Stephen, Subiratha, Sue, Theo, Tom H, Tom K, Victor, Wally, Xilona and Zoe

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That there is a very good reason why I bring the bag of spare clothes every month…

Rubbish Pile

Wandle cleanup: December 2015: King George’s Park

The one with the return of Miss Evans…

The year has gone very fast indeed and before we knew it, the last cleanup of 2015 was upon us. For December we went to King Georges Park in Wandsworth. With the Event Tent decked with tinsel and my reindeer antlers on, I was joined by 30 volunteers on a chilly Sunday morning. After the usual Health & Safety briefing we got started, with half of us getting in the river and the other half working from the banks.

Within 10 minutes, a bicycle had been sighted, collected and placed on the start of the rubbish pile by Santa. An excellent start.

River Santa

While on the banks we were discussing Christmas shopping, and how far behind we all were, with the idea that maybe the Wandle could be our solution? Although I imagine we’d be less than impressed if Santa’s sack really was filled with soggy gifts from the Wandle. Olaf flip flop anyone?

Olaf Flip Flop

To distract us all from the cold, we became magpies, closely inspecting what we were pulling out of the Wandle, looking for some special Christmas finds. I discovered this old style Fanta can which no one else seemed quite as excited about..

Fanta Can

We found the usual coconut…

Classic Coconut

As well as what we believe was a Nativity scene Mary, minus the head…

Mary

By 1pm, we were all ready for a cup of tea to warm up and to try some of Ann’s carrot cake which she kindly made for us all. Much to our delight, we were visited by a Christmas Angel during lunch – Erica Evans! As lots of our volunteers will remember, Erica organised our Wandle cleanups for many years and happened to be visiting London this weekend, so she thought she’d pay us a visit!

We didn’t stop for long with the chilly weather, and so back in the river we went. The waders continued upstream to the next bridge, clearing over 300m of river. Some afternoon finds included:

This metal chair, which I have been informed is a welding chair.

Welding Chair

This brightly coloured figurine which I was told was a Shirdi Buba (learning lots at this cleanup)

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And some large heavy shed roof sheets which had absorbed so much water they were a real challenge to get out so late in the day. Trust Derek to find something just as we were finishing up!

Wooden Board

Last year 518 volunteers pulled out 8.5 tonnes of rubbish from the Wandle, donating 2012 hours of their time to the cause. Have we beaten this for 2015? Stayed tuned over the Christmas break to find out!

So what did we find?  1 frisbee, 1 motorbike dashboard, 1 Olaf flip flop, 1 railway sleeper, 1 70” record, 1 radio, 1 television, 1 vintage Fanta can, 1 sun lounger, 1 welding chair, 1 generic chair, 2 bicycles, 4 pillows, 5 tyres, 5 umbrellas, lots of wire and bags and bags of other junk.

The Rubbish Pile!

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Ann for catering for our volunteers (cheese scones and carrot cake!), Wally for supervising the Event Tent and the Waste Management Team at Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Ann, Barry, Charles, Chris, Dave, David, Derek, Ed  ,Guy, James, Jamie, Jane, John, Louise, Marina , Mike, Nick , Paul, Per, Phil, Sally, Simon, Theo, Tom, Victor, Wally, Xilano and Zoe.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That no one reads the email blast! My request for Christmas attire was missed on everyone..

Christmas Selfie

Wandle cleanup: November 2015: Plough Lane

The one with a record amount of rubbish!

BasherAnother month, another Wandle Trust cleanup, and for November we returned to Plough Lane in Merton.

After holding a two minute silence for Remembrance Day, 40 eager volunteers descended on the river to hunt down rubbish and clean up the surrounding area; supervised by myself and Basher.

Our wading team, led by Derek, got straight in and starting finding trugs and trugs of rubbish – it really was rich pickings!

I was soon presented with the first of many gifts from the wading team – my very own bike.

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Another interesting find in the morning was a Boris Bike – the bike was still working and we used it for the rest of the day, travelling up and down the Wandle Trail with tools.

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After a busy morning, we all stopped for some much needed cheese scones and chocolate cake, kindly made for us Ann and Tesco’s.

The afternoon saw more and more rubbish – including another children’s bike:

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A TK Max trolley:

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And a mattress frame:

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Just when we were wrapping up for the day, a mystery item was found lurking in the depths of silt in the Wandle. Soon the entire wading team were called in as back up to find out what this item was, and everyone was pulling and heaving on the grappling hooks. What was it? Well it was a car frame we think…

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All in all, we pulled out an amazing amount of rubbish from the Wandle at Plough Lane – just check out the rubbish pile!

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So what did we find?  1 jumper, 1 pair of jogging bottoms, 1 safe, 1 toy guitar, 1 Boris bike, 1 TK Max trolley, 1 car seat, 1 set of false teeth, 1 hub cap, 1 Coolest Christmas Ever DVD, 1 tennis racquet, 1 stereo system, 1 coconut, 1 bike wheel, 1 Wix trolley, 1 floor lino, 2 hanging baskets, 2 traffic cones, 2 kids bikes, 4 car mats, 4 car carpets, 4 licence plates, rolls and rolls of carpet, and lots more bags of plastic, metal and other rubbish

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event, Ann for catering for our volunteers (cheese scones were delicious!), Louise for supervising the Event Tent, Wally for helping supervise everyone on the day, and the Waste Management Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abi, Aimee, Alima, Andrea, Andy, Ann, Anna, Audrey, Bill, Brandi, Charles, Chris, Danielle, Dave, David H, David S, Debora, Derek, Ed, George, Guy, Hannah, Helen, Hugo, Jan , Jane, John N, John S, Karoline, Lorenzo, Louise, Lucinda, Max, McKay, Mike, Nick, Nusrut, Patrick, Paul, Penny, Phil, Richard, Rose, Scarlett, Stewart, Theo, Tony, Victor, Wally, Wayne and Yvana.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  Sometimes you get muddier packing the van than at the actual cleanup!

Our New Education Programme has Arrived: Project Kingfisher!

KingfisherlogocolourThe Wandle Trust, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, is inviting nurseries, schools and colleges along the river to get involved in our new education project: Project Kingfisher.

Project Kingfisher is built around the good practice of the Trust’s award winning Trout in the Classroom project.

During the spring term 2016 children will enjoy seeing the ‘Creatures in the Classroom’ whilst at the same time learning more about them.

Take a look at the options below and click the pictures to find out more!

Tyre Ponds

Shrimps in Schools

Tadpoles in Tanks

Sticklebacks in Schools

AND our newest one, Roach in the 3 R’s 

To find out more about any of these exciting projects follow the links to our Creatures in the Classroom pages under Education.

If you have any questions then do not hesitate to drop a line to education@wandletrust.org

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Wandle cleanup: October 2015: Earlsfield

The one with the TV crew, bacon sandwiches and my new hoody…

Our October cleanup this year was pretty special, but where to start?!

Let’s go with location. So for October we were back to the infamous Trewint Street in Earlsfield, and by 11 o’clock I had been joined by a staggering 72 people! No pressure…

Seymour GreenSeymour Green Estate Agents who were supporting the event joined us with their local team as well as South West London TV who had come to film our event and see what we get up to on the second Sunday of every month.

On top of this, we were joined by Mancinism Design who had made organic cotton bags and branded jumpers especially for the event. Mine was so comfy I wore it all day, and into the office on Monday!

So even before we had started, it was already a special cleanup.

Organic Bags

To get the event started, I introduced the day’s plan which was to divide into two wading groups. One to head upstream in the hunt of motorbikes (a classic find at Trewint Street unfortunately) and one to head downstream for all sorts of other rubbish.

Everyone else would support from the bank and litter pick on the Wandle Trail.

So off we went.

Pretty quickly, the wading team were finding plenty of rubbish in the river. However the added challenge of Trewint Street is that the trugs of rubbish have to be hauled up the concrete wall – not logistically easy.

Motorbike

Our motorbike hunting team were off to a slow start, but just as we thought there weren’t any, we found two! The first came up relatively easy, being a small moped. But the second took 15 people on a rope to heave up. The students from Richmond International University all grabbed the ropes and dragged the bike all the way back to the rubbish pile – we were very glad they all came along!

cot

Downstream of the bridge, our wading team were finding some large items which they then had to drag back up the river (against the flow) for us to haul up. They found a toddler’s cot..

tyres and bbq

A BBQ..

And a motorbike which was too heavy to bring back so we hauled it out onto the bank to be collected during our next cleanup downstream at Ravensbury Terrace.

Fireplace

Meanwhile, cleanup guru Jane and Winston (Macinism Design) had found something lurking in the silt of the Wandle, but the identity of the mystery object remained unknown all morning as they struggled to move it on their own. Luckily after lunch we sent more helpers and the object was found to be an old fireplace.

Speaking of lunch – what a treat! Ben’s Canteen supplied us all with bacon rolls! These quickly disappeared among the hungry volunteers. And Bean & Hop sent us some other snacks to share around. So a big thank you to them!

After lunch, everyone was back in the river. One of the last finds was a carpet – not an easy things to pull out of the river, let alone drag back up the channel, haul over the concrete wall and then ferry it to the rubbish pile. But it made it!

Carpet

So it was a hugely successful day! Thank you to all the volunteers who came along to our event, we hope to see you all at the next one on November 8th at Plough Lane!

So what did we find?  1 fireplace, 1 radiator, 1 BBQ, 1 toddler playpen, 1 Woody doll (who had seen better days), 1 mattress wire, 1 strimmer, 1 vacuum cleaner, 1 number plate, 1 CD player (old school), 1 bicycle tyre, 1 Avengers Assemble football, 1 generic football, 1 bench, 1 carpet, 2 trolleys, 2 motorbikes, 4 tyres, several random pieces of metal and 40 bags of other rubbish.

Rubbish Pile

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event and Rose for supervising the Event Tent; Wally, Theo & Chris for helping supervise everyone on the day, Mancinism Design for our jumpers and bags, South West London TV for coming along and Ben’s Canteen for the bacon sandwiches and the Waste Management Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abigail, Adam, Andrew W, Ann W, Brandi, Breuno, Brigid, Charles WS, Chris E, Chris R, Claire, Colin, Colin M, Curtis, Daniel, Dave J, Dave P, David W, Derek, Ed, Faisal, Geroid, Giacometi, Giulla, Hannah, Henry, Ida, Jack, Jane P, Jason, Jess, Jessica, Joanna, John N, Jonathan, Kimberly, Linus M, Lois, Louise, Luca, Maggie, Michael, Michael R, Nick, Nikola, Noah, Oliver, Olivia, Paul R, Penny, Phil, Rachel, Rob, Rose, Rosemary, Russell, Sally, Sara M, Sarah, Shannon, Simon, Tate, Theo, Tom, Vic, Wafiya, Wally, Wayne, William, Winston and Zoe.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   There is nothing better than a bacon sandwich after a morning of Wandle work.

Check out South West London TV’s Video of the Cleanup here!

Wandle cleanup: September 2015: Ravensbury Park

The one with very muddy volunteers…

September saw our final Capital Cleanup event in Ravensbury Park kindly funded by the Mayor of London’s Capital Cleanup fund and the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.

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As traditional for our September cleanup, we were joined by Friends of Ravensbury Park who had their eyes set on clearing the infamous floating pennywort from the lake. They really had a big task ahead of them!

Luckily we were also joined by a keen team from ZipCar (our van suppliers) who under the supervision of the Friends of Ravensbury Park, headed straight to the lake to battle the aquatic menace.

Zipcar

The rest of our cleanup team headed to the river to clear rubbish throughout the park. Quickly discovering plenty of rubbish lurking in the depths including this Frozen football – perhaps I’ll save it for a Christmas present for my little cousin, after cleaning it of course!

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Meanwhile, the ZipCar team were finally learning what we get up to when we book their van once a month. Muddy, muddy work. Without much persuasion, several members hopped in the lake and got stuck in, sawing and towing pennywort to the jetty while the others dragged the plant out and ferried it to the impressive dumping pile.

Floating pennywort

Pennywort Pulling

Lunch came around giving everyone a welcome break from the hard work of the morning. But with so much pennywort, the break couldn’t last forever….

More pennywort

The wading team were making great progress and headed down the back channel to check for rubbish.

Waders

In the afternoon, my favourite find was discovered – an inflatable microphone which got me in the singing mood. Luckily, no one was around to record my rendition of Taylor Swift.

X Factor

Thank you to all the volunteers who came along to our event!

So what did we find?  1 Frozen football, 1 Mickey Mouse ball, 1 other generic ball, 1 fire extinguisher, 1 rope wheel, 1 bike wheel, 1 set of trolley wheels, 1 dustbin lid, 1 net, 1 inflatable microphone, 1 giant iron bar, 2 car seats, 2 scooters, 3 buckets, 14 tyres, 30 bags of other junk along with barrows and barrows and barrows and barrows of floating pennywort. Seriously… there was a lot!

Pennywort Pile

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event and John for supervising the Event Tent; Wally, Theo & Dave for helping supervise everyone on the day, Friends of Ravensbury Park for leading the floating pennywort team, ZipCar for waiving the van’s fee for the day and the Waste Management Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abi, Agnes, Alex, Alison, Andrew, Ann W, Barry, Ben, Camille, Charles, Charlotte, Chris S, Dave J, Dave W, Derek, Dimal, Flora, Fred, Fumbi, Gina, Ian, Ida, Isabelle, Jan, Joe, Johamm, John L, John N, Keith, Khin H, Khin T, Laura H, Louise, Marta, Michael R, Michael S, Naomi, Niki, Paul, Renah, Richard, Richard B, Rose, Sabiha, Sally, Sanya, Sarah A, Sheree, Sophie C, Sophie O, Stewart, Sue, Theo, Tim, Victor, Victoria, Wally, Wayne and Will.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   White uniforms will always become brown when handling floating pennywort.

Rubbish Pile

Dam, where’s all the water gone?

We’ve started work on the Trewint Street Fish Passage!

Fish passage on the River Wandle is impeded by over 30 in stream structures, the majority of which are weirs left from the milling era. These weirs and structures are a barrier to the movement of fish both up and downstream and also fragments and isolates habitats.

The Weir

Trewint Street is one of the significant barriers to fish passage, with two weirs either side of a large concrete island. With funding from the Environment Agency, Thames Water and Defra’s Catchment Partnership Action Fund (CPAF), we have started our project to install baffles and a fish pass to the right hand side weir, allowing the movement of fish once more!

The pass will also benefit European Eel populations which have declined by over 98% in the last 15 years, with barriers to movement being a contributory factor.

So what are we doing?

Low cost bafflesOn the right side channel, a series of baffles will be installed to the upper section of the concrete weir. These baffles are made from recycled plastic and fixed to the weirs in rows.  They slow the flow down on the weir, deepening the water and allow fish to swim up the weir through notches cut into the baffles (Image, Fishtek).

Barrages

In the lower part of the right hand channel, three notched barrages will be created to reduce the drop in water level between the channel and baffles. This will allow fish to easily swim up through the notches and through the baffles to new habitats beyond (Image, EA).

What will you see?

You will see a lot of building work on site over the next month as our contractors (Amenity Water Management (AWM) get started. You’ll also notice that the right hand channel is a lot drier than normal…

Dam!

Amenity Water Management have created a sandbag dam to keep the channel dry allowing them to work on installing the structures. All will return to normal once work is complete.

We’ll keep you posted with updates as always, but for now Tim is just happy to have wet feet again!

Tim happy once more

Wandle Cleanup: August 2015: Sutton

The one where we cooked in our waders…..

This August was the first of our Capital Cleanups, kindly funded by the Mayor of London Capital Cleanup fund, held in Beddington Park on a very, very sunny and hot day. Not ideal weather for waders or wellies.

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Rose was kind enough to help me load the van for this event, and I was thankful to have her with me as I turned up to site to find a car boot sale blocking the road. Luckily we squeezed the van through and set up in our usual spot ready for everyone to arrive.

This month we divided into three teams: the wading team; their wader support and balsam bashers. Theo had found several patches of Himalayan balsam in the park which he was keen to get on top of.

Within 20 minutes of sending the waders off to the river, they returned with two trolleys – not what I was expecting from a seemingly clear stretch of the Wandle! We were wondering if Asda would be wanting these back…

Trolleys

Soon more and more rubbish was coming out: tyres, pitch fork, metal fencing, large pieces of wood. For a narrow stretch of the river, it didn’t disappoint.

Rubbish pile building..

Behind the wading team, Theo and a couple of others were checking for individual Himalayan plants on the river bank to ensure we swept the whole park clean.

Balsam Hunting

While this was going on, a brave team tackled a large infestation further into the park where the balsam was the height of trees and the stems were the thickest we’d ever seen them. A true balsam jungle amongst the nettles.

Balsam Bashers

Wheel Barrow RelaxationBy lunchtime we were all very hot and ready for a cool drink. Jackie had kindly made us some jam tarts and I had baked three chocolate cakes which I then packaged to look like they had in fact been purchased… it’s the small touches.

After lunch we reluctantly put our waders and wellies back on and got back in the river. The wading team had cleared the river before lunchtime so after lunch we all focused on the balsam.

With the bulk of it removed, we were looking for smaller plants in the undergrowth which we wanted to catch before they set seed for another year. It took a little while to get our eyes honed in, but sure enough there were plenty hiding in the nettle jungle.

Hunting

With Beddington Park cleared of balsam (for this year anyway) and rubbish we decided to finish a bit early to cool off.

Thank you to all the volunteers who came along and tolerated the heat for our event!

Finished Pile

So what did we find?  1 pitch fork, 1 paint tub, 1 watercolour set, 1 scooter seat, 1 wooden chair, 1 hamster cage, 1 tyre, 2 buckets, 2 Asda trolleys, 3 set of tea china, 4 coconuts, 8 large pieces of wood, steel roofing, plenty of metal fencing, 25 bags of other junk and barrows and barrows of Himalayan balsam.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event and Rose for helping me load and unload; Jackie for catering for our volunteers; Rose for supervising the Event Tent; Chris, Wally, Theo & Dave for helping supervise everyone on the day and the Waste Management Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Charles, Chris, Daniel, Dave, David, Denis, Derek, Fred, George, Gillian, Graham, Helen, Hugo, Ian, James, Jamie, Joe, John, Karoline, Keith, Ken, Lisa, Lois, Louise, Mark, Mike, Neil, Per, Phil, Richard, Rob, Ruth, Sally Ann, Theo, Tom K, Victor and Wally.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   Sunshine and chest waders are not a great mix.

Barrow of Balsam

All photos kindly taken by Sally Ann Symis

The Battle of Watermeads

The Battle of Watermeads was fought between the Wandle Trust and two invasive plants which had been successfully invading the River Wandle for many years: Himalayan balsam and floating pennywort.

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General Alan MartinHistorians have pinpointed the start of this epic, ongoing war of attrition against the Wandle’s invasive non-native species as far back as June 2010 or earlier, and our latest campaign has certainly started with the recruitment of General Alan Martin.

Alan joined the Wandle Trust movement in April 2015 to help coordinate a river wide action plan against plants and other invaders, and Himalayan balsam and floating pennywort have quickly become two of his most formidable opponents.

On Friday 31st July, two armies faced each other in Watermeads Nature Reserve. The Wandle Trust General, Alan Martin, had recruited 29 dedicated and loyal volunteers to his cause. Together they faced a terrifying scene and were horrendously outnumbered by the ranks of balsam and pennywort established throughout the reserve. But this did not deter them.

The strategy: Divide and Conquer

The battle started at 11am. General Alan divided his ranks into two regiments, each to face one of the enemies alone. General Alan took charge of the floating pennywort regiment and took to the high seas of the Watermeads back water. Captain Joe bravely guided the vessel behind enemy lines to cut free rafts of pennywort, while the rest of the regiment waited on shore to haul in the catch with grapples and rakes.

Captain Joe and his Crew

Raking and Grappling

Meanwhile on the western front, the Himalayan balsam regiment was beginning their attack. Alan had appointed Lieutenant Polly to lead the balsam front and with her ranks in tow they marched into the undergrowth. To begin with, they found small patches of the plant and made quick progress pulling these up and piling to compost. However as they ventured further into the reserve they came face to face with an overwhelmingly large forest. Numbers which far exceeded their own…

Two loyal soildiers

Balsam No Man's Land

As the battle raged on, General Alan’s faithful sidekick, Pepper, kept watch on the troops and raised morale.

At 4pm, both armies called a truce and re-grouped ready to fight another day. The Wandle Trust Army had come out on top with no casualties save for a few nettle stings. For the invasive plants, it was a tough defeat. Pennywort and balsam casualties were everywhere.

Pennywort Pile

Top Soildier

All that was left was for the Wandle Trust Army to clean up and make sure they weren’t spreading the enemy further by their equipment. The answer? Power hose. A prospect all too exciting for Pepper.

Biosecurity

Join us for the Battle for Watermeads II on Friday 21st August, 11am. Campaign plans can be found here.

Your River Needs You!

This battle has been key to General Alan’s plan for the whole river – a campaign to eradicate invasive non-native species from the river to allow the return of native flora and fauna. A campaign which is part of the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.

You can join General Alan’s crusade and sign up as a River Ranger to hunt down and monitor other invasive plants along the river.

This event was supported by the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Funded through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.