The River Crane and Crane Park Twickenham
|Creating ponds within the channel|
The Hogsmill isn't the only river to have undergone significant channel restoration in the south-west London Thames catchment. However the Crane improvements commenced in the late 1990's with the Environment Agency installing deflectors (using the boulders pictured). The enhancement work never stops and TCV volunteers have recently been installing bunds to create slack water, in order to protect small fish. Instead of the hazel faggots staked into the river bed (as employed along the Hogsmill) they were able to source sufficient driftwood from upstream. This is very surprising, as such a large area has been accomplished, which is visually delightful.
|Hedge laying along the Crane|
|Rehung tree limb with hole|
Everywhere along the Crane corridor is evidence of the hard work of local volunteers from the illustrated hedge laying near Lincoln's Fields, to the re-hung bat/bird nesting opportunities.
|Citizen Science projects|
|FORCE community education walks|
In addition to the habitat creation, members of the Friends of the River Crane (FORCE) monitor the water quality and convene educational walks for members of the public. Today, a water vole walk, was led by Ian MacKinnon. Here he demonstrates the water vole 'lawns' with grazed areas around their burrows, as well as holding up samples of grass sections with the characteristic chewed ends at a 45 degree angle.
|Water vole grazed 'lawns'|
|Ian showing the distinctive feeding remains|
Water voles eat a wide range of plant material but some of their favorites have had to be specially planted. This includes the evergreen Greater Tussock Sedge and the Pond Sedge, where water vole runs could clearly be seen in the dense matrix of stems and a nest had been found during the previous breeding season.
|lesser or small teasel|
On the Crane Park Nature Reserve run by the London Wildlife Trust, a unusual plant was seen, the Lesser Teasel (Dipsacus pilosus) is sometimes known as Small Teasel, it prefers damp calcareous soils, typically around woodland edges and clearings but also along hedgerows. Flowers are small, globular shape made of white flowers with violet anthers and woolly spines.
The reserve is intriguing, with the perfectly preserved Shot Tower, which is used for classroom study. We have had interesting bat sightings along the mill race and seen bats emerging from the many bat boxes on the site. You can find details of how to join the Crane from the FORCE website.
|Mandarin duck commonly found breeding along the Crane|