An ecological,circusesque,puppetesque, Richard-Jefferiesian and social account of South West London in the World!
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Seething Wells from the Thames- Boat Trip
An intrepid crew braved the 8 degree temperatures to record heritage and other features along the river wall of the Filter beds. There are many niches used by wildlife, which will be tidied away if the marina and moorings are developed. This includes the old barges, which provide multiple opportunities for nesting birds, as well as shelter, night roosts etc. The river wall is a solid mass of ivy berries, indicating the abundance of pollinating insects, which must have been busy during the autumn. In turn, this will provide food and shelter through the winter for thrushes, blackbirds, blackcaps and wood pigeons . We saw wrens, robins and a foraging tit flock as we cruised along the wall.
Spanish broom and ivy along the river wall Thames.
It may look untidy to us, but this is what ecology looks like, these are ecological niches. The structure, density and variety of vegetation is habitat for insect prey and pollinators and offers shelter during bad weather or from predators. Look closely and there is a shelf where moorhen can perch and missing mortar where pellitory- of - the - wall and gipsywort take root.
mistletoe on trees in Home Park, Barge Walk
and above all, when viewing the opposite side of the river (at Barge Walk), it becomes apparent that this is the darkest and most undisturbed location along the Thames in the London Region.
The last day of May, I went to see if I could find the black redstart that had been widely reported, no luck but it will turn up again on one of the old buildings. The lush vegetation was looking beautiful between the Filter Beds at Seething Wells. I made a note of the breeding birds: goldfinches twinkling away, blue tits gathering food, sand martins flying over the FB's (only two this year unfortunately) moorhens and some scruffy little coot chicks entangled in the algal blooms.
Proud parents were showing off their four Canada chicks; they can cover a lot of ground in a short space of time they were soon feeding on water pepper and bistort gleaned from the ziggerat-sided basins. A song thrush sang from the wharf alongside greenfinches as well as the seasonal chiff chaff; although this year all numbers are down, reflecting not only the topsy-turvy Spring but also the continued tumble in insect numbers (even seed eating birds are dependent on insects to feed their young).
Many noticed the draining of the water in the filter beds, even though it took place the week before Christmas. I have no hotline to the offshore company who own the site and can only hazard a guess as to why this is happening now.The water level had risen to the top of the filter beds posing a management issue and leaving it any later could fall foul of the bird breeding season. If proposed Environment Agency charges for abstraction and disharge go ahead from April 2018 it could be very expensive to discharge the water see https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/new-charging-proposals-fromapril2018/
There used to be a charge for a discharge permit until deregulation followed Agency staff cuts. Abstraction for small amounts of water became free but this has not helped the environment and our local rivers such as the Crane, Hogsmill and Beverley suffer constantly from low flows. So the Agency have to reconsider but the admin causes a financial headache and any new charges must refl…
Yesterday, Richard Jefferies exited his blue-plaqued villa at Woodside, 296 Ewell Road, opposite the former St. Marks school, which was built on Tolworth Common during his 5 year residence. Here he wrote, 'The copse adjoining the back gardens of Woodside was visited by pheasants which sometimes strayed into the neighbours’ gardens. Early in the March mornings he woke to the ‘three clear, trumpet-like notes’ of a missel thrush ringing out from the copse. From his window in the evenings he could hear partridges calling. Stone-chats perched on the furze bushes of Tolworth Common.
He strolled towards Tolworth Broadway and Greenway, followed by 30+ participants keen to locate RJ's observations from 'Nature Near London'; first published as a series of articles in the Pall Mall Gazette for the commuting public. In 1920 the very same paper celebrated his work by reprinting excerpts from his regular column - along with joining instructions for his walks - by tram and motorbu…