Tag Archives: Fish

Freelance Teachers Wanted

Project KingfisherAs part of our new education programme, Project Kingfisher, we are looking to recruit two freelance teachers on the River Wandle.

Project Kingfisher is designed to raise awareness about the River Wandle by engaging children and young people with the river and incorporating it into their lessons. It has been funded through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.

Last year Project Kingfisher engaged nearly 4000 students, visiting 23 schools in the Wandle catchment. We hope to exceed this in the next academic year and the freelance teachers will play a large role in this, enabling delivery of the project to more schools. More information on Project Kingfisher can be found on our website: www.wandletrust.org/education

To find out more about the available positions, download our Role Description below.

Freelance Teacher Role Description

Details on how to apply can be found on the role description. The application deadline is Monday 24th October at noon, with interviews likely to take place the week commencing 31st October.

If you have any questions about the role or application process, please call our Education Officer on 07468 529 312 or email david.gill@wandletrust.org

Shrimp Release

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

Trout in the Classroom 2014: A fond farewell

At the end of April, on a bright spring day, the Trout in the Classroom graduates of 2014 finally got the sending off they deserved. Five south London schools along with the Deputy Mayor of Merton (Councillor John Sargeant) and Wandle Trust staff and volunteers were there to mark the event.

The Deputy Mayor began proceedings with a perspective on just how far the river has come since he was a boy growing up in the area. He then gamely obliged us by stepping into a pair of waders and lowering himself into the river to help the children with the release.

Deputy Mayor talking at release 2014

There was no shortage of excitement on display. For the children, the day was the culmination of a fascinating journey of discovery into the life a native fish species – from egg to alevin to fry – literally opening up a whole new world.

Kenley fish at release 2014

As an adult watching the event, it strikes you how tangible the exhilaration of the children is – something that is perhaps no longer that familiar to us. It extended to secondary level – if in a more controlled fashion! – as students from Francis Barber PRU and Sutton Grammar also were clearly pleased to be in the river and part of the event.

Mayor with Kenley students at 2014 release

I was particularly interested in the reaction of students from Culvers House primary school, some of whom spent their time enthusiastically picking up litter and pointing out rubbish on the river bed. Although wishing to oblige them, by the time those in the water got around to looking for the rubbish, too much silt had been kicked up for it to be seen, to the disappointment of the children.

Kenley Release 2014

Their enthusiasm nonetheless impressed me, and it struck me how much their optimism and belief in their ability to make a difference is such a precious commodity that young people are uniquely gifted with, and is something that we should be doing our very best to protect and cultivate. It is a crucial part of changing things for the better. And with its story of successfully reintroducing a breeding population of brown trout into a once heavily polluted and industrial environment, Trout in the Classroom once again demonstrated how it can play such an important role in keeping that optimism alive.

Note: River pollution and Trout in the Classroom

Anyone familiar with TitC will notice that the release was a little later than usual. Normally timed to occur before the Easter holidays, the release day this year had to be postponed by a month on account of a significant pollution spill in the river.

Following the heavy rains over the winter, large amounts of water entered the works as a consequence of the high water table and mixed with the untreated sewage. This overwhelmed the treatment plant storage capacity and Thames Water were obliged to discharge the raw sewage directly into the River Wandle. Although no fish kills were reported, oxygen levels were severely depleted.

Even since the release, further pollution incidents have occurred. The connection to Trout in the Classroom is appropriate as it serves as a reminder how the Wandle is still a river with an uncertain future facing significant man-made threats. This is why education projects like TitC have a vital role in helping local people feel invested in the health of the river and the species that depend upon it, and can teach them to be alert to any deterioration in its condition. In turn, this could help build the consensus for the authorities and water companies to make the investments required to eliminate these threats.

(All photos: (c) Mike van der Vord)

You are invited to the Launch of the Living Wandle project on World Rivers Day!

In June we reported the news that the River Wandle had won the lottery! This triumph was a £2 million award from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Landscape Partnership Scheme involving 25 projects to be delivered by a whole host of organisations on the Wandle.

LivingWandlePoster

The project is going to be ‘launched’ on World Rivers Day – Sunday 29th September 2013 – at Morden Hall Park. All the organisations involved will be there to tell you about the exciting projects that are coming up over the next 4 years.

The Wandle Trust will be leading on 4 projects – A river education programme for schools, a pollution awareness project called ‘River Guardians’, some physical river restoration work which will build on the enhancements already being delivered and a project called ‘Discover the Source of the Wandle’ through which we’ll investigate local features and landscape as well as archived records to look for signs of where the Wandle starts flowing.

Further details on the event, including the event booklet, can be found here.

So come and join us at Morden Hall Park on World Rivers Day and hear about these and other projects (including an invasive species programme, oral history and community theatre projects and the opening up of Merton Priory’s Chapter House). The Wandle Piscators will also be at Merton Abbey Mills that day with a range of activities so why not take a Sunday stroll along the Wandle between Morden Hall Park and Merton Abbey Mills and join thousands of others around the world appreciating their local river on World Rivers Day!

Trout in the Classroom 2013: Farewell for another year!

Trout in the Classroom 2013 - with George Monbiot

With three rousing cheers and a final farewell, the last of this year’s trout swam off into the waters of the Wandle.

Three Wandle Valley schools – plus about 10 staff and volunteers – congregated in the lovely Morden Hall Park on Thursday 18 April. This being only my third visit to the park, I’m more convinced than ever that it is one of the top parks in London. Much of this is owed to the river itself which casts a magical spell on the surrounding areas.

The gods played their part with their timing of the weather. It was a perfect April day – with bright, warm sunshine but followed by the most torrential rain we’ve seen all year. Fortunately, by the time the rain arrived we were safely inside the National Trust café with our tea and scones, celebrating a successful release and another successful year of Trout from the Classroom to the Wandle!

Greenmeads School

It was particularly inspiring to see the young children from Greenmeads Primary School in Putney, some of whom had arrived in wheelchairs. They greatly enjoyed getting into the water, and they had also integrated the trout brilliantly into their classroom with displays on the school corridors. A trout demonstration is planned for school assembly next month. Well done to them!

Greenmeads - Drew in the water

Two Sutton schools took part this year: Orchard Hill College and Culvers House Primary School. Chris from Orchard Hill has done a fantastic job of looking after the fish this year, ending up with around 60 fry, one of the best tallies in what has been a tough year for some of the schools. Chris’s pride in the achievement was, understandably, very tangible!

Orchard Hill - Chris in the water

Culvers House Primary have had a hard year in raising their fish this year with a number of fish kills drastically reducing their numbers. And yet the enthusiasm from the children and the teachers has just been incredible and has never faltered.

When I visited Culvers House to give a presentation on the subject to the assembly, the attention of the young people over 40 minutes was extraordinary – as were the number of intelligent questions they put to me and Chris from Penta Consulting, which generously supported the programme in the school. The core team of children who looked after the tank brimmed with ideas, curiosity and energy – which was brilliant to witness.

Culvers House - releasing fish

We also had a very special guest at our Morden Hall Park event – George Monbiot from the Guardian newspaper. Although I didn’t let on at the time, he is something of a personal hero with his incredibly insightful environmental writing and I was a bit stunned in seeing him turn up. It was also not without some apprehension – knowing that he doesn’t pull his punches.

However, the piece that he wrote was extremely touching and personal and is a wonderful piece of writing.  A fly fisherman himself when time allows, it was clear the project had a genuine impact on him.  A big thanks goes to Mark and Nick of Project Dirt for setting up the connection.

So well done to the students this year. It has been a fascinating year of learning and experiencing the outdoors on our doorstep – for myself included – and I can’t wait to do it again!

Trout fry release

(First photo: Theo Pike / Urbantrout.  All others: Mike van der Vord)

Trout spawning in the Wandle!

Now for a bit of good news after the last pollution post:  Trout are spawning on the Carshalton arm of the river again!

The picture shows  a trout redd (nest of trout eggs).  The redd is the light coloured gravels made by the hen fish with her tail.  She scoops out the gravel by fanning her tail and then lays the eggs which when fertilised by the cock fish are covered with more gravel in the same way.  Trout eggs need lots of cool, well oxygenated water flowing over them to mature and hatch.

Note, this is in the Butter Hill stretch which until our works last year was behind a weir.  Notice the fast flow and healthy growth of marginal iris and watercress.  And of course none of this would have been possible without removing the weir with the help of the Wild Trout Trust, and all the work of our marvellous volunteers!

Pollution Incident: What Did You See?

On the evening of Tuesday 21st August 2012, a fire at Thames Water’s Beddington Sewage Treatment Works resulted in a loss of power and the consequent release of partially treated sewage into the Wandle. This caused ammonia levels in the river to rise and oxygen levels to fall resulting in a fish kill.  The sewage works is now fully functioning with only treated effluent being released and a cleanup operation is underway to remove any remaining dead fish.

A sample of the dead fish

Although what happened is broadly known, we’d like your help to piece together specific details.  This will help the Environment Agency, Thames Water and ourselves with investigations to assess the impact of the event and to plan for future pollution prevention and restoration work.  If you have any information, observations, photos, etc. please do post them through the comments section below.  We’re particularly interested to know what time the pollution began and when it reached different points along the river as well as when/where any dead fish were seen and whether they were floating or on the river bed.

If you see any new pollution, please report it straight away to the Environment Agency incident line on 0800 80 70 60.

New Wandle books: Trout in Dirty Places and River Wandle Companion & Wandle Trail Guide

The last couple of months have seen the publication of two important new books related to the River Wandle. 

In early April, the Wandle Trust’s Chairman of Trustees, Theo Pike, launched Trout in Dirty Places: 50 rivers to fly-fish for trout and grayling in the UK’s town and city centres.

Described by one reviewer as “a landmark in fly-fishing history”, Trout in Dirty Places provides a fascinating snapshot of the state of urban rivers across the UK, with profiles of many community river restoration and Trout in the Town groups – of course including a chapter on the Wandle and the Wandle Trust!

Then, this week, the much-anticipated River Wandle Companion and Wandle Trail Guide was published by our good friends (and dedicated Wandle volunteers) Bob Steel and Derek Coleman.

This is the first new guidebook to the Wandle for 15 years, bringing the story of the river’s revival right up to date, and including huge amounts of painstaking new research and details about local history.

Both books have now been officially launched, but we hope to arrange further authors’ signings at Wandle cleanups in the near future. In the meantime, the books are also available via the following links:

Update: on Saturday 17 November, Derek Coleman will be giving a talk on the wildlife of the Wandle at the London Wetland Centre. Click here for full details.

Spawning trout!

Great news to start 2012!  Trout have recently been seen spawning in the restored Carshalton arm of the river near Butter Hill.  The newly notched weir has allowed fish to migrate upstream and utilise the gravels that were introduced as part of our river restoration works in the summer and autumn.

A trout creating a redd (trout egg nest) by flapping its tail to clean away silt, dig a hole in the gravel, and cover the eggs with more dislodged stones:

Trout eggs require good flows with well oxygenated, cool water for successful maturation and hatching.  The combination of the improved access for fish to the new gravels and faster flows from the narrowing and flow deflectors have created ideal habitats for the spawning fish with some fine redds being formed.

As you can see from the photo below, one redd was cut in the faster flow provided at the end of the wooden flow deflector (location of  this deflector and other features were suggested by our good friend Paul Gaskell at the Wild Trout Trust – cheers Paul!) The redd can be seen as a cleaner patch of gravel which contrasts with the siltier gravel around it:

The redd will allow eggs to hatch (in approx. 2 months) and emerging tiny fish (alevins) to shelter in the gaps between the pebbles below the surface of the gravel bed.

It is important that the redds are not disturbed until they hatch in a couple of months.

Many thanks to all who have contributed to the restoration work over the past year: our many enthusiastic volunteers alone have given over 500 hours of hard work to the project. Big thanks too to the Wild Trout Trust for their advice and support throughout. We can already see that the fish are appreciating it!

Update: this exciting news has now been picked up by Total Flyfisher, and Angling Times is also running a Wandle story: click the links to read more.  

Meanwhile, Sutton Guardian’s version implies that the pollution incident in 2007 damaged the river as far upstream as Carshalton: this isn’t correct, since the spill entered the river near Goat Bridge, but it’s certainly true to say that Thames Water’s settlement helped us to fund this work as part of the Living Wandle project, which is vitally important to make the whole Wandle catchment healthier and more resilient for the future.  And, as a result, we certainly hope that the winter of 2011-12 will be the river’s most successful trout spawning season for more than 80 years!

Rubble, gravel and wagtails

October 29 & 30

After  a few weeks’ break we were itching do some more restoration work and so a nice mild October weekend saw our volunteers back in the river downstream of Butter Hill Weir.

People were soon hard at work digging out rubble and raking back the substrate:

A mid channel island soon began to take shape:

A deeper channel was created linking the weir pool and the fish pass flows, creating more attractant flow for the fish pass.  The deeper water will also benefit fish which that are resting before ascending the pass.

Seven tonnes of flint gravels were then introduced over the two days to provide a more natural chalk stream habitat.  The gravel will become home to bug life and may even be used by fish for spawning sites.  The improved flow should also help keep the gravels free of silt along the fish pass wall.

A group of volunteers filled buckets with gravel…

… while others carried them to the river and over the fence…

… to be carefully lowered into the river and then spread on the river bed:

An audience soon gathered and a number of them were inspired to help shovelling too!

Break times were always welcome, cheese scones …hmmm!

Jo and her delicious cakes (the way to a volunteer’s heart is always through their stomach!)

After finishing the work we all stood and admired the work and saw a  grey wagtail fly in and bob along the new gravel bar.  Wagtails have nested at this site previously and the new gravel bar will be ideal habitat for them.  We plan to introduce  a bird box designed for wagtails at this site in the near future.

The finished work.  Over time the gravel colour will tone down, water plants will grow in the river and the gravel bar will be vegetated with aquatic plants to provide more habitat diversity.

Many thanks to all our volunteers: Abi, Alan, Anne E, Ann W, Chris, Emma, Erica, Georgina, Helen, Jez, Jo, John N, John P, Paul, Rob and Toby.

This event was supported by the WATER project selected within the scope of the INTERREG IVA France (Channel) – England cross-border European cooperation programme, co-financed by the ERDF.