Tag Archives: floating pennywort

Floating Pennywort on the Wandle

Alan Martin, our Invasive Non-Native Species Officer, has been very busy this last growing season. Working with our trained River Rangers to map all invasive plants on the Wandle, and with the newly trained Hit Squad to start controlling them, we are making great progress.

One species we’ve had some great success with is floating pennywort. This aquatic invasive plant can be found along the river from Carshalton to Wandworth. Alan has developed and implemented a combined manual and chemical approach to tackle this species from its source in Sutton, and work until it is out of the river in Wandsworth. While this is going swimmingly, he has also looked at two sites on the Wandle where pennywort has a stronghold: Watermeads and Ravensbury Park.

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At Watermeads, the floating pennywort had infested a large backwater, a potentially key habitat for river wildlife with added aesthetic, recreational and ecological benefits. Working with the National Trust, Alan set to develop a management regime for this habitat to maintain it as an open water and keep pennywort at bay.

So how did we do it?

Manual Removal

To reduce overall biomass, several hand pulling events were held with volunteers from the National Trust and Wandle Trust – you may recall the epic Battle of Watermeads? Rafts of pennywort were cut away and towed to the bank using long grapple lines. The pennywort was then wheelbarrowed to a site away from the river where it would be left undisturbed to rot away.

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Foliar spraying

After reducing the initial biomass, herbicide was then used on the regrowth. With Environment Agency permission, Alan and Richard (from the National Trust) applied the first spray of herbicide in February this year.

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With this combined approach, open water was achieved!

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Continued monitoring

The secret to this work is that the work actually never stops. As long as there is a source of pennyworth on the Wandle, there is a risk the backwater could become re-infested. The local angling club at Watermeads and the National Trust volunteers have taken ownership of this site and continue to check for signs of pennywort, pulling out new plants. By keeping on top of it this way, it should never reach the scale it was back in 2015.

So what’s next?

Working with Merton Council and the Friends of Ravensbury Park, we are starting a similar management plan on the lake in Ravensbury Park which has been full of pennywort for years. Watch this space!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Your River Needs You!

River Rangers

Will you join our River Rangers Team and help hunt down invasive non-native species on the Wandle?

We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to join our River Rangers team and help us monitor invasive species on the River Wandle from its source to the Thames.

Our team of trained recorders will survey the entire length of the Wandle three times a year, building up a picture of where the invasive species are and how well our management efforts are working in controlling them.

Training for the team will take place this August on the 19th or 20th – date and venue to be confirmed soon.

What will be covered?

  • What makes a biological record?
  • Invasive plant identification in all seasons
  • Invasive plant ecology and biology
  • Biosecurity
  • Uploading your data

What will be involved?

Following training, our River Rangers will be unleashed on the Wande three times a year to map invasive species through the different growing seasons. Data will be uploaded online to LISI – London Invasive Species Initiative.

The first River Ranger day will be Sunday 27th September 2015.

This project will form a valuable baseline monitoring system for our efforts in the eradication of these invasive species. Next year, a Hit Squad will be trained up in the management of INNS and will work alongside our River Rangers to manage and control the species they record.

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This project is supported by the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.

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Wandle cleanup: June 2015: Sutton

The one with our new Invasive Species Officer

WatermeadsI had been very excited about this cleanup for a while as it was being held in the newly opened Watermeads Nature Reserve near Poulter Park – a truly beautiful site for a Wandle Trust event!

The event was funded through the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership. To start the event off, we introduced our new Invasive Species Officer – Alan Martin. Alan is working to coordinate the control of invasive species along the entire Wandle corridor with the help of other organisations, local landowners and volunteers.

After the Health & Safety briefing, all 41 of us divided up into 5 teams…

The Briefing

Team 1: The litter pickers!

Since Watermeads was so newly opened to the public, the litter pickers weren’t sure how much general rubbish they would find, but as always they tracked some down! Using our newly purchased litter pickers and our new bag hoops provided by the Capital Cleanup fund, they dispersed into Watermeads and returned with bags of litter!

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Teams 2 & 3: Wandle waders and bank support  

Again armed with new litter pickers, our wading team headed to the far end of the reserve to hop in the Wandle and start hunting down rubbish. Although shallow in the reserve, the river bed was very silty so the waders made slow progress as they moved upstream. With such high levels of silt, finding rubbish was a challenge – but that didn’t stop them! Using their feet they discovered two trolleys, rolls of carpet and several traffic cones and tyres, all before coffee time.

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Team 4: Balsam bashers

The Watermeads Nature Reserve was full of Himalayan balsam so Theo led a team to track down each plant and pull it out, roots and all. They first tackled balsam along the edge of the river and paths – to ensure these plants wouldn’t seed and spread further downstream. After this, the team bravely ventured into the undergrowth of nettles and brambles to find forests of balsam standing well above their heads.

Balsam Bashers

Team 5: Floating pennywort

Alan was keen to tackle the backwater pond in Watermeads which was full of floating pennywort – a highly invasive aquatic plant which can smother a water body and impede water flow. However, the site was challenging as the water was too deep for our waders. Some creative thinking was called for…

Pennywort piles

Volunteers used grappling hooks and rakes to pull in pennywort from the banks. It was a strange sight to see – volunteers lassoing hooks across the pond in the hope of snagging a large raft of pennywort. They quickly cleared one side of the bank and were in need of support to reach the other side.

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Boating

Two lucky volunteers stepped up and got into a boat. Using very, very small paddles, they freed pennywort from the other side and used grappling hooks to tow the rafts back to the bank. A true example of team work.

Pennyowrt Barrier

Meanwhile, Alan wanted to be sure the pennywort wasn’t spreading any further downstream. With the help of Dave, they created a barrier at the end of the pond to catch any straying bits of pennywort, containing the invasive in one place.

It was a very busy day but we achieved so much in just four hours! So a BIG thank you to all our volunteers who came and we look forward to seeing you at the next one on July 12th in Hackbridge – details to follow soon!

Rubbish Haul

So what did we find?  1 baseball bat, 1 old hairdryer, 1 fire extinguisher, 1 Hindu statue, 1 shovel head, 2 carpets, 4 footballs (including 1 Finding Nemo football, so glad we found him), 3 traffic cones, 3 trolleys, 5 plastic guttering poles, 11 tyres, piles of wood and metal sheets, many bags of other miscellaneous rubbish, piles and piles of Himalayan balsam and even larger piles of floating pennywort!

We found Nemo

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event, Sally and Ann for catering for our volunteers (carrot cake and cheese scones were delicious!), Jackie for supervising the Event Tent, Theo, Sally and Alan for helping supervise everyone on the day, National Trust for letting us loose in Watermeads Nature Reserve 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: Aaron, AJ, Amarapuspa, Ann, Barry, Carol, Charles, Daniel B, Dave J, Dave W, David, Dennis, Derek, Ed, Felix, Harrison, Henry, Ian, Jackie, James W, Jane, Joe, John L, John N, Kas, Keith S, Marta, Marion, Mark, Nicholas, Nick H, Nick W, Per, Richard, Rose, Sally, Sue, Tara, Theo and Thomas C.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  That you have to be very creative when tackling pennywort in a pond too deep to wade!

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