Tag Archives: Thank you

Ravensbury Back Channel: The final touches

Two weeks ago, we spent three days back at our Ravensbury Park Back Channel project to finish off the works.

Day 1

Day 1 was spent preparing a site for 2000 plants which were due to arrive the following day.  Our loyal volunteers arrived expecting an easy day of planting and instead we surprised them with spades, shovels and a huge pile of soil! We needed to create a gentler slope on the bank and to do that involved some serious work. But with visions of tea and cake we soon got stuck in and the bank started to take shape.

Luke working hard

Meanwhile, we also had a team putting up bird boxes in the area. These bird boxes have been designed with grey wagtails in mind, a bird which you can often see skipping along the back channel.

The Bird Boxes

The day ended with a pilot test of our bat boxes. We have brought five bat boxes to put up in the area. They are odd looking things with flat wood and small crevices between for the bats to roost in – almost like a bat multistory car park! With wire and a ladder, Luke and the volunteers tried to install the first one to perfect the technique ready for the next day.

A Bat Multi-Storey Car Park

Day 2

Day 2 soon came round with slightly improved weather and all 2000 plants had arrived! We ordered a variety of species – some were to be planted in the water, and others would be added to the banks such as lesser pond sedge and reed canary grass. All together these would make a great marginal community of native plants.

2000 Plants

We had 2 sites to plant up so we divided the trays into piles of different species – one pile for each site. Our 9 volunteers then headed off to site number 1 armed with dibbers, waders and gloves.

First site all planted up

By lunchtime, the site was finished and everyone was ready for tea, coffee and cake.

A planted plant

After lunch we moved onto site 2 and decided to focus on the plants that needed water so they were in before we had to leave for the day. So it was wader time again…

Day 3

On our third and final day we were joined by 5 volunteers to do the last bits of the project. First we all focused on the final 1000 plants – and even I had the chance to get involved!

Planters at work

Louise from the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership team couldn’t resist coming for a visit and doing some planting as well.

Louise planting away

The pile slowly got smaller and after a quick lunch break we had all 2000 plants happily installed in their new homes.

Yet more planting

The next job was raking and seeding the bare ground with wildflower and grass mix. It was a great 3 days out in the field and a big thank you to all the volunteers who came to help!

The finished work

A big thanks to Lawrence who helped run the event with Luke and myself.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Barbara, Charles, Dave, Jason, John, Lawrence, Maureen, Mike, Neil, Nick, Rob, Tim and Wally.

Next week – Wimbledon Common and the Beverley Brook!

 

Wandle cleanup: January 2015: Merton

The one with the grabber lorry

With Sunday 11th bring the second Sunday of January – it was time for the first Wandle Trust cleanup of 2015.  Last year, we pulled out 8.5 tonnes of rubbish from the River Wandle – and we are keen to break this record in the next 12 months.

We started 2015 in Merton on North Road and as usual we got started after a Health & Safety briefing. We had 38 volunteers with us on a sunny but chilly Sunday morning – as well as our faithful supervising dog, Basher.

Basher

We split into two teams – waders and litter pickers. Our wading team hopped in the river and worked upstream finding all sorts of rubbish. It didn’t take long before they scouted out some “challenges” including a buried water tank which took grapples and some serious muscles to heave out of the river.

Water Tank

Soon our litter pickers returned having scouted out the park and surrounding area. They had discovered 3 trolleys further upstream and a giant piece of plastic roofing wedged by a tree downstream; both of which our wading team just couldn’t resist!

The trolleys were relatively simple – muscles and grapples – with all three trolleys in relatively good nick so we could push them (or hitch a ride in them) back to the rubbish pile.

Trollied

The plastic roof sheeting was another story. Roughly 3 metres wide and 5 metres long, the sheet was awkward and heavy to pull out of the river and disentangle from the undergrowth on the banks. However once free, all it took was a couple of huskies to pull the sheet back up the hill to the rubbish pile. Woof woof!

Plastic Roof

Huskies!

After hauling this sheet up the hill, we decided everyone deserved a break so we all gathered back at the tent for cheese scones and hot tomato soup kindly supplied by Sally and Jana.

But I wouldn’t let everyone rest for long as we had plenty of rubbish to remove! The afternoon saw the usual collection of Wandle objects:

Many many bicycles – including one which was so new, we rode it back to the pile!

Bicycle

Scooters galore!

Scooters

A golf club

A car door – my new ride…

My new ride

and a toy dinosaur – I always have to find a toy.

Dinosaur

At half two, Stan from Merton Borough Council appeared with the grabber lorry to collect the rubbish causing a stir of excitement back at base.  We got to see the grabber in action as it crushed our metal water tank as if it were made of paper.

Crushing Power!

So what did we find? 1 wheelchair, 1 leaf blower, 1 giant plastic roof sheet, 1 plastic dinosaur, 1 vacuum cleaner, 1 water tank, 1 car door, 1 frying pan, 1 bucket, 1 petrol tank, 1 orange, 1 lemon, 1 pineapple, , 1 half coconut shell, 2 traffic cones, 2 barrels, 4 tyres, 7 scooters, 7 bicycles, lots of carpets, miscellaneous piping, bags and bags of other junk.

Huge thanks to Gideon and Michael who met me early to load and unload the van; Sally and Jana for catering for our 38 volunteers; Theo and John for helping supervise everyone on the day; to the Waste Management Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish on the day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: AJ, Bella, Bertie, Charles, Chris E, Chris L, Claire, Dave, David, Derek, Elliot, Felix, Gerald, Gideon, Guy, Harry, Jamie, Jana, Jane, Jason, John, Keith, Mark, Matylda, Michael F, Michael H, Ollie, Penny, Richard, Sally, Stewart, Theo, Tim, Toby and Wally.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  That even if it looks like there is little rubbish in the river, the Wandle volunteers will somehow find enough to fill a lorry!

Fungi versus Diffuse Pollution

Our Water Quality Officer, Olly, has been having a busy few months working to tackle urban diffuse pollution on the River Wandle.

If you missed the introduction to his work – have a quick read now!

This week, Olly, myself and some lucky volunteers will be installing the next pollution mitigation measure: Mycofilters.

Mycofilters (Mycos for short) are mesh sacks packed full of straw, wood chip and mycelia (the non-fruiting part of fungi). Over time the mushroom mycelia grow throughout the sack and create an expert filtration device. Once placed in the river, the mycelia filter out contaminants from the water which passes through them.

Mycos!

The Wandle Trust has already trialled growing and installing these filters. In November 2014, we held another successful volunteer day to make a further 60 bags with a slightly modified and more robust design.

This week we will be taking these fully grown Mycos and installing them on sites where pipes are potentially polluting the river. The Mycos will be installed securely to ensure there is no flood risk and will be monitored carefully over the next two months to determine their effectiveness.

So if you spot something odd looking close to the river – it is probably a Myco! Please don’t remove them and if you see one in jeopardy – let us know!

A BIG thank you to our Myco-making volunteers from November. Thanks to you we managed to make 6 Mycos in less than four hours! I’d also like to thank our sewing team who took the time to sew up 60 bags for us to stuff full of pollution busting goodness.

Our Myco Makers!

 

The Siltex is in!

Have you walked past Carshalton Ponds today? If you have, you may think it is looking a little different…

The White Carshalton Ponds

The ponds have turned a milky-white colour. But do not fear, this was intentional! Working with the Environment Agency, we have just added two tonnes of Siltex to the ponds.

Siltex is a natural chalk-like substance which helps to increase the speed of silt breakdown by stimulating natural processes. (Click here to read more about why we are doing this).

We had eight dedicated and brave volunteers join us at 8am on chilly Tuesday morning. Everyone was kitted out with waders, goggles and masks – Siltex isn’t dangerous but we wanted to be extra careful.

Siltex Volunteers

Steve stepped up as Captain Siltex to join Olly in the boat, throwing Siltex overboard in the deeper waters. For the morning, our vessel was kindly lent to us by Sutton Council. In the afternoon, Olly and Steve commandeered a smaller boat from the Sutton Ecology Centre. Without these boats, we wouldn’t have been able to apply the Siltex at all so we are extremely grateful to Dave Warburton, Ian Hudson, Warren Chapman, Collin Franklin and Mark Featherstone for loaning and delivering these boats on the day.

Captain Siltex

While Steve and Olly sailed the open seas, the rest of us were adding Siltex from the shore, showing off our throwing skills. This allowed us to get a good coverage over the shallower parts the boats could not access.

Adding Siltex by hand

Throughout the day, the Environment Agency were taking readings further downstream to ensure everything was working as it should.

Olly will be monitoring this regularly for the next few months to determine if it is a cost effective solution to the management of silt at Carshalton Ponds. Last week, Olly and I took some pre-Siltex water samples on a chilly and damp morning.

The Water Samples

Why are there four different bottles I hear you ask?

The reason for this is that there are several different substances which are of interest in the ponds. We are interested in what effect the Siltex might have in speeding up the breakdown of several contaminants (e.g. car exhaust particles) as well as reducing the overall volume of mud. Different tests are required for different substances – for instance hydrocarbons (oils and fuels) stick to plastic, so must be stored in a glass bottle if they are to be extracted and analysed. So different bottles are needed for each different test!

While we were out we rescued Woody from the Wandle – he is now our unofficial Mascot for the project! He even joined us for the Siltex event, although came out a little worse for wear….

Woody Before and After

Keep your eyes peeled for more updates!

Hackbridge Restoration Update

This month has seen some drastic changes to the Hackbridge site. Over the last few weeks, contractors and the Wandle Trust team have been working hard to create new banks, backwaters and even an island – all in the name of river restoration!

But with all the building works taking place, the site has begun to look a bit bare. To solve this we got planting…

Hackbridge Planting Event

Last weekend (6th, 7th and 8th September) 60 volunteers from the local community joined the Wandle Trust team and added 6000 plants to the banks of the Wandle. The plants were a variety of species designed to create a natural vegetation structure along the bank. Close to the to water’s edge, volunteers planted aquatic species such as flag iris, purple loosestrife, various sedge species, hemp agrimony, ragged robin and a number of other species to give 18 in all.  In the drier more meadowlike conditions tall herb like wildflower plugs and seeds were planted contatining a mix of 23 native species.

Once these plants have grown, the Hackbridge site will look brilliant – a true wildlife haven in Greater London.

We’d like to thank all the volunteers who came over the weekend to help us – we couldn’t have done it without you!

Working Hard?

Next steps for the site include the installation of woody debris to further diversify the habitats. So keep your eyes peeled for our next update!