Tag Archives: INNS

Wandle cleanup: May 2017: Beddington Park

The one with a Limerick…

Did you know last week was National Limerick Day? Well, if you didn’t, to get this blog started here is a Wandle limerick just for you:

But on with the cleanup…

As May is the start of Himalayan balsam season, our cleanup for the month focused on Beddington Park, with our usual volunteers joining forces with our Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) teams: the River Rangers and the Hit Squad.

On the Wandle, Himalayan balsam is widespread and is not great news for the river. As part of our Wandle Invasive Species Project, we have been working with our River Rangers and Hit Squad to map the distribution of the plant on the river, and plan out action to work towards its eventual eradication.

Beddington Park, and Richmond Green just upstream, are considered the “source” of Himalayan Balsam for the Wandle, sending seeds downstream to colonise new sites, and are therefore priority areas to target.

On a sunny Sunday morning we were joined by 58 volunteers, including a local scouts group and our INNS Officer, Alan, with his trusty sidekick, Pepper the dog. After our Health & Safety briefing, we divided into two teams to get started: the cleanup crew and the balsam bashers.

Alan led the balsam bashers. Having worked on the site last year, Alan knew where the balsam would be and took a team of volunteers to remove every single plant.

Meanwhile, the cleanup crew got started on the river. The waders headed upstream from Church Lane towards Richmond Green and it wasn’t long until two trolleys were found.

And then not much longer until another two were discovered!

While working up the river, the cleanup crew kept an eye out for any Himalayan balsam growing on the banks of the Wandle, removing each plant as it was discovered.

In no time, we had made it to the weir and started emptying the trugs of rubbish into wheelbarrows.

Andy and Dave then led an “expert” team over the weir all the way to Beddington Lane to clean and check for balsam on a stretch we are usually unable to access.

We still had 40 minutes until lunch, so the rest of us headed back to the tent, got back in the Wandle and headed the other way to clean the river inside the park. It was close to spotless with only the odd can or bottle!

By lunchtime, the balsam team had finished, and the cleanup crew were in need of a drink. We all gathered back at the tent to have lunch and enjoy the sunshine.

After a longer lunch than usual, Alan took the Hit Squad (our team of volunteers trained in the management of Invasive Non-Native Species) to the small pond on London Road, just outside Beddington Park. Here there was some floating pennywort to remove as part of the Wandle-wide battle against the very invasive aquatic species. A rather terrifying discovery however, was the presence of New Zealand pigmyweed (Crassula helmsii) in the pond as well – photographs and samples were taken to confirm but this aquatic plant could cause real problems for the Wandle.

Photo Credit: GBNNSS

The rest of the waders got back in the Wandle and finished off the last 100 m in the park, finding an extra 3 or 4 bags of rubbish.

It was then time to check the skip was packed, and the van, and then all head home for a nice cold beverage.

So what did we find?  1 washing line complete with pegs, 1 car wheel clamp, 1 tow bar, 1 buoy ring, 1 bag of lemons, 1 coffee table, 1 football, 1 tennis ball, 1 cricket ball, 2 traffic cones, 3 coconuts, 4 trolleys and 15 other bags of rubbish, plus around 200 balsam plants.

Huge thanks to local volunteer Jackie for kindly funding this event, Sutton Council for purchasing some much needed litter pickers for us, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Rosie and Alan for helping me back at the garage, Ann for baking some treats, and the Parks Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:   Aaron, Aenes, Alex, Andrea, Andy, Andy B, Ann, Cain, Caroline, Charles, Charlie, Chris, Claire, Clare, Dave, David H, David S, Derek, Drew, Ed, Gavin, Geoff, George, Gillian, Guy, Jackie, Jane, Jenny, Jessica, Jim, John L, John N, John S, Joshua, Justyna, Katrina, Ken, Kilian, Kim, Matilda, Michael, Nick, Nicola, Olivia, Per, Phil, Rolanas, Rosie, Sheila, Sophie C, Sophie N, Steve, Talus, Victor, Wally and William.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? The difference between coconut water and coconut milk!

 

 

 

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: August 2016: Wandsworth

The one with the new recruits

Hard to believe a month has passed since we were in Plough Lane but it was indeed cleanup time again on the Wandle last weekend.

For August, 49 of us gathered in King George’s Park in Wandsworth, ready for some cleanup action. We had a number of new faces with us this month including some passers-by who found us in Plough Lane back in July, a local rugby team and a team from EquiLend.

After the usual Health & Safety Briefing we got started. The first task for us was to make a path to the river. As we normally visit King George’s Park in the winter, we were suddenly faced with a forest of nettles and brambles. Using a spade and loppers, Phil and Guy created the first path down to the river and our wading team set off.

Cleanup

While this was happening, I sent a second team to create similar paths through the nettles at the other two gates, ready to wheelbarrow the rubbish. It was not an easy task!

With the waders in the water, it didn’t take long for the rubbish to start coming out. Behind the willow trees, large amounts of debris had collected such as drinks cans and bottles.

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We also found perhaps the creepiest doll I’ve ever seen amongst the debris…

Creepy Doll

Our bank support team and litterpickers stumbled upon a large stand or two of Himalayan balsam. As balsam seeds can be transported downstream by the river, it is best to tackle this plant from the source of the river first, which we’re doing at Richmond Green, Beddington Park, Hackbridge and Culvers Island. However, when spotted it is always worth preventing it from setting seed so that when we do make it down to Wandsworth, we have less to tackle. So a small team of volunteers pulled the plants up, using bin bags to catch the seeds.

Himalayan Balsam

Jane made sure every last plant was found by checking from the river itself.

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By lunchtime the rubbish pile was huge and so I decided to have our break a little earlier, not that anyone would get out of the river!

Finally, 49 people gathered at the tent to have tea, coffee and homemade cake kindly made by Sally and Ann. We all had a rest and basked in the sunshine which had come out in full force since the morning.

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It wasn’t long until everyone wanted to get back to work, most likely seeking the shade of the river! So we went off again…

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The afternoon saw two main wading teams competing for the best Wandle find. A rugby team stuck together finding bicycle tyres, a trike, typewriter and 2 bed spring bases.

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Whereas the rest of the waders were slightly further upstream tackling a giant lorry tyre!

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By the time is came around to three o’clock I could get neither team out of the river!

The rubbish pile at the end of the day was an impressive pile for just 300m of river..

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So what did we find?  1 lorry tyre, 1 coconut, 1 plastic banana, 1 jewellery box, 1 creepy doll, 1 trike frame, 1 paddling pool, 1 engine block, 1 typewriter, 1 pair of waders, 2 car tyres, 2 wooden pallets, 2 bed spring bases, 2 baby rattles, 4 baby dummies, 5 bikes, 6 footballs, 7 bits of random piping (all shapes and sizes), bags and bags of other junk and 7 piles of Himalayan balsam.

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Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding the event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Wally for helping supervise the cleanup, and the Waste Team at Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Alex, Allison, And, Ann, Becky, Boguslawa, Carol, Cassandra, Charles, Chris, Clare, Dan, Dave J, Dave W, David A, David C, David H, David T, Eughan, Gideon, Guy, Haydn, Jacek, James, Jane, Jason, John, Jon, L Marshall, Mark, Michael, Nick, Oliver, Penny, Pete, Peter, Phil, Richard, Rose, Rowena, Sally, Sarah, Steve, Stewart, Stuart, Theo, Wally, Zoe B and Zoe D.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That when volunteers are determined, there is no way of getting them out of the river..

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Parrot’s Feather in Beddington Park

The River Wandle has its problems when it comes to invasive non-native species. Floating pennywort is well established, Himalayan balsam can be found up and down the river, and Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed are well spread too. Therefore when it comes to the control of these, progress can be slow.

But it is a different story for Parrot’s Feather!

Parrots Feather

Parrot’s Feather is an aquatic invasive plant native to central and south America.

Parrot’s Feather loves to grow in still or slow moving water bodies, and because of this it became a popular plant for gardens and aquariums. However, like so many of these introduced species, Parrot’s Feather escaped and has become established in the wild.

The plant can quickly grow to cover small waterbodies, displacing native species and blocking out sunlight to the water below. In slow moving waters, it can cause flooding by blocking up watercourses and drainage channels.

Before

Luckily on the Wandle we only had one record of Parrot’s Feather, and that was in Manor Pond at Beddington Park. To ensure there was no further spread, we worked with Sutton Council to organise a volunteer day to remove the plant, every last stem!

Our five lucky volunteers, Ed, Dave, Wally and Phil, joined our INNS Officer Alan and Louise from the Living Wandle team to manually remove the plant.

Removing Parrots Feather

While our volunteers worked, our Education Officer ran a number of activities for families passing by to raise awareness about invasive non-native species.

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To start things off, Alan set up nets to catch any stray bits of Parrot’s Feather that might break away during the works. This helped ensure we wouldn’t spread the plant any further. Vegetation was cut back so we could be extra sure none was hiding anywhere.

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Then it was time to grapple and fork it out. Back breaking work… or so I heard…

Parrots Feather

It took 3 hours but all the Parrot’s Feather was removed, and Sutton Council’s Parks Team came and collected the plant to be disposed of.

So the classic before and after…

Before and After

Wandle cleanup: May 2016: Sutton

The one with the traffic jam

For our May cleanup, we headed to Beddington Park. The event was funded by the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, a HLF funded scheme all about reconnecting people with the River Wandle.

I arrived an hour and a half early for this event. Why you may ask? Well I was woken up early with a small nightmare about the cleanup. I dreamt that I arrived at the event, unpacked the van and got everything set up myself. At 11 o’clock no volunteers had arrived and instead I get a phone call saying I was in the wrong place, and all the volunteers were waiting the other side of the park!

Luckily on the day, this didn’t happen.

Beedington Park Clean up and HB bash 8 May 2016 (13)

For the day we had two aims: the first was our usual Wandle cleanup, and the second was to tackle invasive Himalayan balsam. In the past we’ve hunted balsam later in the year, when the plant stood high above the nettles with its bright pink flowers. Since we’re now getting closer to eradicating this species from Beddington Park and the upper Wandle, we decided to hit it even earlier in the year. But that did make spotting it slightly harder…

Beedington Park Clean up and HB bash 8 May 2016 (21)

After a welcome talk and Health & Safety briefing we divided into teams. We had a wading team which went off into the Wandle to start removing rubbish, we had a bank support team to ferry the rubbish to the pile, a litter picking team around the park and two balsam pulling teams headed up by Theo Pike and Alan Martin.

As our Invasive Species Officer, Alan had surveyed the whole park ahead of the event and mapped where the small balsam plants could be found. But as they were only small, our volunteers needed a keen eye.

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Meanwhile, our waders had already discovered a trolley!

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Keeping an eye on the waders involved some getting past some extensive greenery on the sides of the banks, something we don’t have a problem with in winter.

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By lunch time everyone was very hot and relieved to find a bit of shade from the hot sun. We sat around eating our lunches and drinking water, marvelling at the traffic chaos that was happening in the park. Car after car had turned up for a day in the sun only to result in a grid local down the narrow Church Road.

After lunch, the wading team heading further into the park and found another trolley, some traffic cones and a pot of paint.

Beedington Park Clean up and HB bash 8 May 2016 (40)

After this though, the river was very clear and for once we felt like what we were doing was making a difference.

The balsam bashing team continued to tackle the wetland areas within the park, making sure every last plant was discovered and pulled up.

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Finally after a long day in the sun, we packed up the van and all joined the traffic jam awaiting us trying to get down Church Road. What a palaver!

Rubbish Pile

So what did we find?  1 bucket, 1 cage front, 1 dismantled tent and wire, 1 saucepan (thought this might be a good addition to my new flat), 1 pot of paint, 2 trolleys, 2 road work signs, 3 disposable BBQs, 5 traffic cones, 6 panels of metal fencing, 15 planks of wood and 20 bags of other junk. Plus all the tiny, tiny balsam plants….

Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding the event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie & Dave for supervising the Event Tent, Theo & Alan for helping supervise the balsam bashing, John, Chris and Wally for helping to supervise the waders and the Parks Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Alex, Andrea, Andy, Anna, Ben, Charles, Chris, Dave, Derek, Ed, Geoff, Geoffrey, Gillian, Guy, Hanna, Helen, Henry, Hillevi, Ian, Isabelle, Jamie, Jane , Janet, JJ, Joe, John L, John N, John S, John W, Keith, Klara, Len, Mark M, Martina, Mia, Nick H, Nigel, Per, Rob, Rosie, Roy, Sally, Sofia, Sue, Thebias, Theo, Twyla, Victor, Wally and Will

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That Beddington Park is the beach of South London on a hot summer’s day.

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Wandle cleanup: April 2016: Wandsworth

The one with the local chef

For our April cleanup, it was time to venture to an unknown site for myself (but a well-known site for the regulars) – Ravensbury Terrace. This site is the next stop downstream from Trewint Street so we knew there would be plenty to find.

This was a slightly special cleanup as we were being filmed! Our work on the Carshalton Arm of the Wandle had recently won the Urban Category for the UK River Prize and for this we needed to produce a film about the project. One of the most important elements of our project was community engagement and our wonderful volunteers – and the cleanup was the perfect chance to catch them!

After a welcome talk from myself, we all got in the river to film a shot for our video – you’ll be able to watch the full film soon so keep your eyes peeled…

Once that was all wrapped up, the cleanup commenced. The first challenge was getting down to the bank via an upcycled staircase made of wooden pallets – the perfect addition to any fashionable London house. Once down there, we had a narrow path to ferry the rubbish back and forth.

Cleanup 1

To make matters worse, there were several Giant Hogweed plants growing along the path. Giant Hogweed is a nasty invasive plant which can grow up to 5m tall – outshading native vegetation. The plant also produces a toxic sap which can cause chemical burns to the skin following exposure to sunlight. To help prevent anyone having to experience this, Theo Pike covered each plant with its very own traffic cone. We always there would be a use for all the traffic cones we found in the river!

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The rubbish quickly started appearing, as it always does. A metal drum, traffic cones, push chairs and more.

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As we worked up the river, we stumbled upon my favourite find of my (almost) two years of cleanups – a chef!

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As soon as he was safely out of the river, we made sure he was put to good use…

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Just before lunch, we got close to Trewint Street. On a previous cleanup there we had found a motorbike in the river, but we knew we’d be unable to haul it up the concrete flood walls above the bridge, so we pulled it out of the river and left it here it on the bank. But now it was time for collection.

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The bike was extremely heavy and the path was very narrow (even narrower with the hogweed plants). Our volunteer first broke the steering lock off the bike, allowing us to move it down the path easier. Two wrecking poles were then used to lift the bike.

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At the other end, our volunteers built a ramp up the pallet stairs and we all watched and hoped the ramp wouldn’t give way..

But it didn’t, one bike successfully removed. Time for lunch.

We were once again spoilt by the students from the American International University in London, who baked us a very impressive spread of cakes including salted caramel brownies and gooey chocolate cookies.

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During lunch, we even had time to interview some of our volunteers about the project and how the river in Carshalton has changed.

The cleanup resumed after lunch. A mattress was found and removed with some effort,  together with planks of wood and lots of piping as well.

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Cleanup 9Trug after trug were filled, emptied and ferried to the rubbish pile.

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So what did we find?  1 mattress, 1 chef statue, 1 jumper, 1 vase of flowers, 1 robot hand, 1 donkey toy from Shrek (great early birthday present, thank you), 1 motorbike, 1 pushchair, 2 chairs, 3 traffic cones, 6 tyres, lots of plastic piping, lots of planks of wood, bags and bags of bottles, cans and other junk.

Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding the event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Dean’s Blinds for hosting us, the students for catering for our volunteers, 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, Alex, Andy ,Barbara, Bella, Brandon, Brian, Charles, Charly, Chris, Daniel, Dave, Denis, Derek, Ed, Eden, Emes, Guy, Ian, Jamie, Jess, Joe, John, Keith, Ken, Lisa, Mark, Matthew, Merel, Miriam, Nick, Olivia, Paul, Penny, Per, Phil, Piper, Rachelle, Rafael, Rob, Rose, Sally Ann, Sara, Steve, Theo, Victor, Victoria, Vittorio, Wally and Wayne.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That you can make anything you need from what you find in the Wandle

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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.

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

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.

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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