Tag Archives: Volunteers

Knowing your rudd from your roach

Our lucky Pollution Patrol volunteers were treated to a FIN-tastic day with our local Environment Agency team, learning all about fish.

It may come as a surprise to some people, but the Hogsmill, Wandle and Beverley Brook all contain a variety of different fish species. Common species across all three rivers include chub, dace, roach, barbel, stickleback and European eels.

But how do you tell the different between these species? For some, it is easier than others. The European eel is quite distinctive compared to the others for example. But as to the rest, it’s a bit more difficult.

Tom Cousins, a local EA Fisheries Officer, started the day for us with a presentation on the different fish species and the key identifying features.

The diagram below shows the external morphology of an average fish, and the features that help us distinguish one species from another.

For example: Roach and Rudd

These two fish are quite similar in appearance, both large-bodied with reddish fins. So how can we tell them apart? The answer is by looking at the mouth.

The roach is a bottom feeder, and its mouth points downwards, with the upper lip over-hanging the bottom lip – whereas a rudd feeds from the surface, and therefore the bottom lip overhangs the top lip.

The presentation from the Environment Agency is available below for you to download, with many more tricks and tips for ID.

Fish ID Presentation

As part of the training day, we also got to witness the Environment Agency’s electrofishing survey at Morden Hall Park on the River Wandle in South London.

It was amazing to learn about the fish in the classroom, and then come outside and see some in the flesh. Each fish caught was measured, and scale samples from some were taken in order to age the fish.

Once they had been recorded and had recovered, they were returned safely back to the Wandle. 

Many thanks to Morden Hall Park for hosting us and to the Environment Agency for running the event!

Hogsmill Newsletter: May Edition

The latest edition of the Hogsmill Newsletter is now available to download. It summarises the results of River Monitoring Initiative (RMI) sampling together with other pollution monitoring and activities and events along the river.

Hogsmill Newsletter May 2017

If you have any comments or suggestions about the newsletter please contact:  Peter Short: rpetershort@hotmail.com

Calling Wandle shoppers: Help us fund Wandle cleanups with your vote at Tesco

Do you live in Wandsworth? Or perhaps the Sutton area? Do you buy your food and other shopping from your local Tesco store?

If so, you could help us to raise up to £8,000 in funding for future Wandle cleanups!

Two of our recent applications to the Tesco Bags of Help fund – Spring Clean in Sutton, and Wandsworth for the Wandle – have been successful, and now you and other local residents can help decide how much funding these projects get, with £4,000 available at each store.

Throughout May and June, until voting closes on 30th June, you will be able to vote for your favourite project in one of the local Tesco stores on the map below. If Wandle cleanups get the most votes, we will be awarded £8,000 to continue funding them for 2017 and 2018!

wandle-cleanups-2016Our cleanups make a big difference to the river. In 2016 alone we removed 47 tonnes of rubbish, clearing 4.4 km of the Wandle. So we really need this additional financial support to purchase new equipment and run the events through 2017 and 2018.

What is the Tesco Bags of Help fund?

Tesco has teamed up with Groundwork to launch its community funding scheme, which sees grants of £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 – all raised from the 5p plastic bag levy – being awarded to local community projects.

Bags of Help offers community groups and projects across the UK a share of revenue generated from the 5p charge levied on single-use carrier bags. Members of the public will be able to vote in store during May and June to decide which projects should receive the £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 awards.

How can you help?

You can help in two ways:

  1. Cast your own vote! The Tesco stores which are holding votes for Wandsworth and Sutton are shown on the map above. Please vote for our Wandle cleanups and help clean up the Wandle in your local area.
  1. Help us spread the word! Share this blog and let your friends and neighbours know that the vote is open until June 30th. Encourage them to shop in their local Tesco store in Wandsworth or Sutton, and cast their vote for Wandle cleanups in 2017 and 2018.

Thank you for your support in helping us to carry on running Wandle cleanups!

Cleanups

Keep up to date with the Hogsmill

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There is a new newsletter for anyone interested in or involved with the health of the Hogsmill. It summarises the results of River Monitoring Initiative (RMI) sampling together with other pollution monitoring and activities and events along the river.

Hogsmill Newsletter March 2017

If you have any comments or suggestions about the newsletter please contact:  Peter Short: rpetershort@hotmail.com

Volunteers Join Forces for the Hogsmill

The Hogsmill river doesn’t know how lucky it is!

Last week, 30 volunteers joined SERT and ZSL at London Zoo for the 2017 Hogsmill Forum.

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The Forum is an opportunity for us and ZSL to say thank you to all the volunteers who help us with our projects on the Hogsmill – Pollution Patrol and the Riverfly Monitoring Initiative.

It is also a chance to share wider plans for the river with the local community,  discussing ideas and actions for the coming year; all of which feed in to the Hogsmill Catchment Partnership which SERT host.

If you are interested in either project, get in touch – volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org

And why not have a read of these presentations which our speakers delivered through the course of the day?

Presentations:

Many thanks to ZSL for hosting us, and for letting us have a look around the zoo after the meeting!

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Get ready for London Rivers Week 2017

Get your diaries out and calendars open, the dates for London Rivers Week 2017 have been confirmed!

LRW logo finalLondon Rivers Week 2016 brought together many partners across London, delivering a total of 35 public events to get everyone involved with their local river. This year, we want to make it even bigger and better.

London Rivers Week 2017 will start on Monday 26th June and run through to Sunday 2nd July. During this week, organisations across London will put on a variety of river themed events including cleanups, guided walks, information talks, citizen science taster sessions and more.

To find out more about London River Week, check out the Thames 21 website page where all the events will be listed: http://www.thames21.org.uk/londonriversweek/

Until then, keep your eyes peeled for more details on what is to come!

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Improvement Works on the River Dour

By Chris Gardner

In 2015 the South East Rivers Trust was awarded a £31k grant through the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Catchment Partnership Action Fund (CPAF) to deliver fish passage and habitat improvements on the River Dour in Dover. All these improvements would be designed to increase the health and resilience of the river environment for fish and other species, to meet the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive.

River Dour an Urban Chalkstream

The River Dour is a short (4 km) little chalkstream that rises in a rural setting but soon flows through the highly urban centre of Dover. This delightful little river boasts a healthy brown trout population, but the habitat is highly degraded due to urbanisation and impounded / fragmented due to a legacy of watermills.

A spotty brown trout

We assessed the urban part of the catchment by walkover survey, looking for potential projects. These were then prioritised on a cost-benefit basis, resulting in four sites where fish and eel passage could be addressed. Two were simple fish and eel passage easements and two were sites for eel passes.

The ruins of the old water mill at Minnis Lane.

Work began in October 2015 with a volunteer event at Minnis Lane near the aptly named village of River. An old watermill ruin at the site presented a complete barrier to fish and eel passage. The main part of the weir was very high and a fish pass here would have been way beyond the budget available. However, a parallel channel had one small step weir and an over wide shallow section of channel upstream that made this route impassable. To make this passable to fish and eels, we fitted a wooden box to the downstream end of the small step weir had a wooden box, to raise the water level up the step so fish could navigate it. We also used faggot bundles as flow deflectors to define a deeper channel through the over wide shallow section. Many thanks to Anita for helping to organise the volunteers and to the volunteers for their hard work! You know who you are!

Fixing in the faggot budles at Minnis Lane

In May 2016, we also fitted two eel passes to Halfords Weir and Lorne Road weirs. These are large weir structures that will require technical fish passes in the future to make them passable to fish, but eel passes were achievable with the budget we had available. The Halfords weir site was quite straightforward – the setup of the weir allowed a simple gravity-fed pass to be fitted. Eel passes allow eels to move over weirs through a piece of conduit which contains brush bristles that provide a crawling medium. Water passes through the pass to provide attraction flow and passes are located at the edge of the weir as studies have shown that eels predominantly use river margins as migration corridors.

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The Lorne Road site was more complicated, because this eel pass needed to go up and over the weir, so a gravity-fed option wasn’t appropriate. Instead, we designed this pass to be fed with a water pump to provide attraction flow. Many thanks to Malcolm and Mick at the Lorne Road Mill building who allowed us to tap into their power supply! Also many thanks to Paul and Simon for their work building the passes – your help was very much appreciated.

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We delivered the final aspect of the project later in spring 2016. Morrison’s weir (near Morrison’s supermarket) presented a barrier to juvenile life stages of trout and eel. To improve its pass-ability, the weir was notched in the middle to provide a streaming flow that fish can swim up, instead of a small drop and a thin plunging flow that fish can’t easily negotiate. Bristles were also fitted into the notch so eel could climb up.

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Wise words from Baton Path Mural

Action on the River Wandle

We’ve been busy on the River Wandle in south London, with new projects starting and plenty of volunteer events. Have a look below to read about our recent Wandle work.

1. River Wandle Cleanups

On the second Sunday of every month we run a community cleanup on the River Wandle. These events are really popular and attract an average of 40 volunteers each time! Here are some of our recent cleanup blogs:

November 2016                         October 2016                          September 2016

Don’t forget to help us fund these in 2017 by voting for our Aviva Project HERE!

2. New Project: Discovering the Source of the Wandle

wandle-park-croydon

We have embarked on an exciting new project to research and understand the source of the River Wandle and how it has moved over time. The project will work with local volunteers to research the source through archived material, geological maps, photographic evidence and oral histories. Read all about it here!

3. Parrots Feather Control in Beddington Park

img_0779Working with local volunteers our INNS Officer, Alan Martin, tackled the Parrots Feather found in Beddington Park on the Wandle. Parrots Feather is an aquatic invasive plant that loves to grow in still and slow moving water. Our team of volunteers manually cleared the pond whilst our Education Officer ran a number of activities to raise awareness about invasive non-native species – read the blog here!

 

 

The Hogsmill: A Work of Art

You may remember that earlier this year we were lucky enough to spend a week in the Hogsmill with the Lower Mole Partnership. It was a chilly week in March but all our volunteers were enthusiastic and we managed to restore 500m of river through the Hogsmill Local Nature Reserve. With wood from the local area we created 9 brash berms, narrowing the river to increase local flow diversity. We pulled out 48 railway sleepers to reconnect the river to a natural bank, and in more difficult places we naturalised the bank with pre-planted coir rolls. A busy week to say the least.

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What we weren’t aware of was that Peter, from the Lower Mole Partnership, turned our week in the river into a work of art. Check it out…

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It was such a great week and we hope to be back again – with another painting!

New London Wildlife Trust Project: Water for Wildlife

image001 (1)London Wildlife Trust have asked us to help spread the word about their new Water for Wildlife Project.

Water for Wildlife is a new four year project focusing on freshwater habitats and their species across London. Surveys will focus on dragonflies, damselflies (the Odonata) and their larvae, because these species provide a useful indicator of habitat changes – quickly recolonising restored waterbodies and relocating in response to climate change. Data collected will be collated into the first ever atlas of Odonata for London.

100 volunteers will receive training in surveying and monitoring. The site visits will depend on the amount of time you wish to dedicate to the project – a fortnightly visit to your local site would be great!

The training programme comprises three elements:

1. Identifying dragonflies and damselflies with Natural History Museum etymology expert Steve Brooks in collaboration with the British Dragonfly Society.
Crane Park Island on 2nd August 10.30-3pm or Woodberry Wetlands on 9th August 10.30-3pm

2. Why and how we monitor and survey freshwater habitats, London’s Odonata species, improving habitats and freshwater policy, led by Trust specialists.
Crane Park Island on 5th August 10.30-3pm or Woodberry Wetlands on 11th August 10.30-3pm

3. Practical sessions on freshwater habitat mapping.
Dates and locations to be confirmed.

Booking is essential. Please email the Water for Wildlife team at London Wildlife Trust or call 020 7261 0447 and tell us why you would like to be part of the team and which sessions you would prefer.

So if you’re interested – get in touch with them!

New London Partnership Project to tackle Urban Pollution

We have teamed up with Thames 21 on a new project to tackle urban pollution across London’s rivers.

Many improvements in the quality of urban rivers have been made in recent years, but lots of serious water quality issues remain. One of the biggest issues is ‘urban runoff’, where a toxic mixture of contaminants derived from urban areas drain straight into rivers.

With surface water drains often running straight into rivers, these contaminants are washed directly and unfiltered into urban rivers when it rains. During these ‘first flush’ events, river water often changes from being clear and colourless to being an opaque grey-black colour, and water analysis shows that a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, fine particles, nutrients, microorganisms and heavy metals are the cause.

First Flush samples from the River Wandle

First Flush samples from the River Wandle

In urban areas the contaminants causing rivers to run grey-black in colour may have a greater impact, but the locations at which they enter a river are often unknown, and they are relatively costly to survey, with samples needing to be processed by a lab.

Our project with Thames 21 is testing a low-cost sampling method that can be used by volunteers to identify complex urban contamination. In particular, it aims to investigate Surface Water Outfalls (SWOs) which discharge contaminated urban runoff into London’s tributaries of the River Thames.

The method being developed is based on evidence from data collected on the River Wandle, and urban sites in Wigan in NW England, which show that Total Suspended Solids (TSS) are strongly correlated with several important heavy metals and E. coli (a bacterium which can indicate faecal matter) and can therefore be used as a low-cost proxy to identify problematic concentrations of these contaminants.

The next step in this project is for us and Thames 21 to create Pollutant Profiles for our rivers to see if they match this correlation. You can follow progress on the project on our Twitter feed @SE_Rivers_Trust with #TSS!

The 2016 Hogsmill Forum

The Hogsmill River may have its problems, but it is one of the lucky urban rivers to have huge community support and many enthusiastic volunteers.

We run our Pollution Patrol on the Hogsmill, tracking down polluted outfalls and misconnections. While ZSL run the Riverfly Monitoring Initiative which uses the kick sampling of invertebrates to check for organic pollution.

So to thank everyone for their hard work, both projects combined for a joint Hogsmill Forum – kindly hosted by ZSL at London Zoo.

Hogs Forum

The event was a huge success with some really interesting discussions on the priorities for the Hogsmill going forward. Below you can download PDFs of the presentations.

Presentations:

 

Calling Hogsmill Volunteers!

Thursday 17th, Friday 18th & Saturday 19th March
10am – 4pm
Hogsmill Open Nature Reserve

This March, the South East Rivers Trust are delivering some restoration works on the Hogsmill through the Hogsmill Open Nature Reserve, and we are looking for volunteers to join us.

What will we be doing? 

We are going to be implementing some restoration through a 1 km stretch of the Hogsmill, such as installing Large Woody Material, bank softening and channel narrowing. These techniques will help increase flow diversity in the river, creating habitats for invertebrates, fish and other wildlife.

Make sure you sign up!
For each day, we are looking for a maximum of 15 volunteers to join us. So if you are interested in joining one or all days, please email Polly as soon as you can to book your place at volunteering@southeastriverstrust.org.

Once your place is confirmed, we will send round more details nearer the time on where to meet us, timings and what you need to bring.

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The Beverley Brook Needs Your Vote!

Bags of HelpThe Beverley Brook Catchment Partnership have been successful in securing a Tesco grant from the Bags of Help fund – but we need your vote!

If you are shopping in the Sutton/Cheam area between now and Sunday 9th March, why not shop in a local Tesco store and give your vote to our project?

With your votes, we could get an extra £4000 to the project! The money will be used to make improvements to the Beverley Brook through Richmond Park following our recent restoration works. There will even be community planting days which you could get involved in.

So what are you waiting for, go vote for Project Two: Richmond Park River Enhancements!

Our Project

 

Tree Planting in Richmond Park

I am sure you have all been following the progress in Richmond Park with our Beverley Brook Restoration Project. Well now that the main channels works have been completed, we were ready to move on to the next stage: tree planting.

Tree Planting

Adding the right number of trees along the channel is crucial to restoring the habitat. Trees provide excellent cover for fish from predation, the shade they create helps to keep the river cool in the summer months, they provide habitat for birds and insects and the seeds as a food source. However too much shade can prevent marginal, emergent and submerged plant growth, so a balance has to be struck.

On a sunny February morning we were joined by seven volunteers from Friends of Richmond Park to plant nearly 200 trees along the two restored sections on the Beverley Brook.

To ensure we got it right, Toby (Senior Projects Officer at SERT) had worked closely with Royal Parks’ Julia (Head of Ecology) to map out where each species should be planted and how many.

More Trees

Tree species planted included several types of willow (white, grey, osier and goat) as well as alder, black poplar, blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel, birch and elm. All trees were given a protection from grazing and from high flows to give them the best chance at establishing. Given the flashy nature of the Beverley Brook, those trees planted closer to the channel were given some extra protection from strong flows with a large stake providing cover.

More trees

Next on the agenda for this project is to add plants to the marginal habitats in April. Watch this space and come and get involved!

Big thank you to our volunteers from Friends of Richmond Park: Brian, Ian, Janet, Jed, Mike, Roger and Simon.

Lovely gravels

Delivery on the Dour

Last month, we ventured all the way to Dover to start delivery of our River Dour Restoration Project.

The Dour is a short river, roughly 4 km in length, which runs into the sea at Dover Harbour.

We were addressing fish passage at a weir near Kearsney Abbey at Minnis Lane. Here the Dour runs through a ruined building, causing blockages to fish passage with the presence of several small weirs. The river itself has started to create its own bypass channel and our aim was to enhance this channel to allow fish passage upstream of the site.

Minnis Lane Site

Installing Brash BundlesTo do this, we installed brash deflectors to concentrate the flow of water to a narrower section, ensuring there was enough flow for fish to swim up without becoming stranded.

We were joined by 6 local volunteers on the day to help us install 12 brash deflectors in the stream.

Each deflector was secured in place with hazel posts and wire to ensure they stayed in place in higher flows.

By placing the deflectors so that they’re pointing upstream, we directed the flow of water into the middle of the channel, creating a deeper section for fish and eels to swim up.

We will be back to finish the site off soon and see how our deflectors are working.

Many thanks to our volunteers who helped on the day: Bethany, Katharine, Lilian, Ray, Simon and Tom. And a big thank you to the local Scout Club for letting us park our van in their carpark.

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After!

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Happy Anniversary to the Hogsmill Pollution Patrol

Pollution on the HogsmillWith the start of 2016 comes the One Year Anniversary of our Hogsmill Pollution Patrol scheme – and what an amazing job it has done so far!

Throughout 2015, our trained volunteers have been monitoring 15 outfalls on the Hogsmill for signs of pollution such as misconnected appliances and sewage discharge.

Together they have submitted 470 reports of pollution to us. Working with the Environment Agency and Thames Water, we have been able to start investigating these issues and begin work towards rectifying them to improve water quality on the Hogsmill River.

To read the latest update of our work, please download our Newsletter below.

Pollution Newsletter December 2015

If you see pollution on your river, call the Environment Agency hotline on:

0800 80 70 60

Pollution

Polluted Outfalls and Riverfly Monitoring

Last week I was lucky enough to visit the Hogsmill River twice with some of our dedicated Pollution Patrol volunteers.

The Team!

From left to right: Geoff, Me (Polly), Steph, Peter, Bill and Jan

Our Pollution Assessment Volunteers (PAVs) work hard to track down and monitor polluted outfalls on the river, sending reports to the Environment Agency for action.

On Wednesday we were joined at a particularly bad outfall by our local Environment Agency Officer Steph to take some samples.

Sewage Fungus

Sewage fungus at the outfall

Steph sampled for ammonia, which is used as an indicator of raw sewage entering the river, and for oxygen available to river invertebrates and fish. Oxygen is a good indicator of how polluted an outfall is, as bacteria use up oxygen to break down organic pollutants, which reduces oxygen available to other species which can sometimes result in fish kills.

Sampling for Oxygen

For this week, both readings were fine.

This is one of many outfalls we’ve been looking at. You can find Steph’s updated report here.

Hogsmill Report July 2015

On Friday I was invited along to the monthly Riverfly Monitoring session at the same outfall with the same dedicated team. Every month they get together at this location and take a kick sample of invertebrates as an indicator of how healthy the area is.

Riverfly Monitoring

Some invertebrates such as caddis flies are very sensitive to pollution and are therefore an excellent indicator of water quality. If this is something you might be interested in, check out the website here!

Thank you to all our volunteers working on the Pollution Patrol scheme – we are making progress!

Pollution-Busting on the Wandle

Over the last 2 years, the Wandle Trust has been intensifying efforts to tackle the considerable problem of pollution in the river. Often contamination can be tackled by our partners in the Environment Agency, tracking down pollution to the source. However, this does not work for all sources of contamination.

For example, contaminants such as particles from car exhaust, the loss of engine oil and other contaminants from the roads can all be washed into the river from no one “point” source. This is known as diffuse pollution.

DiffusePollutionTo illustrate this, there are about 2.5 million cars in London, and 16% of them leak oil. It has been calculated that this would equate to 261,635 gallons of oils dripping onto roads every year! Much of this oil will work its way into London’s surface water drains and then the rivers.

Although changes to the law and car technology may help one day in the future, we need to start acting now. It has been the Wandle Trust’s mission to find out how the contaminated waters from the surface water drains can be cleaned up before entering our river. This is vitally important because water quality is a major determinant of what wildlife can live in the rivers, how beautiful the rivers are, and how much the community value their local water landscapes.

In the current phase of our Pollution Busting Project, four measures are being installed and trialled to determine their effectiveness in reducing the contamination coming into the River Wandle. These measures are the most promising selected from several which were investigated by the Trust and they are called:

  • Downstream Defenders
  • Mycofilters
  • Siltex
  • Smart Sponges

There will be more information about these appearing on our websites in the coming months. We look forward to telling you more about this exciting new phase of our work!

Welcome to Luke, Olly and Polly!

Three new members of staff have recently joined the SERT team.

Luke Mitchell is joining us to work on river restoration projects; Olly van Biervliet will be running our water quality projects; and Polly Bryant will be running our volunteer events.

We are delighted to have them on board and that they’re so enthusiastic – within half an hour of arriving at the Trust, they were already getting stuck in planting up our river restoration on the River Wandle!

Luke, Polly and Olly get stuck in

Luke, Polly and Olly get stuck in!