A busy week in Berrylands

Posted on: 29th April 2019

We’ve had a busy week at Berrylands Natire Reserve with three conservation volunteer sessions, and supporting another community project, helping plant up Berrylands Station.

Across the three different conservation days there were over 45 different people helping out around the nature reserve this week, with quite a few of them helping on multiple days, and a wide range of both new and familiar faces, of all ages.
Thanks very much to all of them!

Given how much has been going on this is going to be a long post!
I would apologize, but I’m so proud of all the work done this week that I’m not going to, sorry.

Wednesday 24th April – Friends of Berrylands Nature Reserve Conservation Volunteer Session

After days of beautiful weather over the Easter weekend, we were greeted with a rather overcast, slightly muggy day, with the threat of rain.

This didn’t deter the Friends of Berrylands Nature Reserve and the 9 volunteers who set-off into the nature reserve with tools and wheelbarrows on hand to continue the work of shoveling woodchip over the nature reserve paths and making a concerted effort to clear patches of the invasive species Variagated Yellow Archangel from around the nature reserve.

The woodchip team added another 50 barrel loads of woodchip to the paths, and the archangel team cleared 2 substantial patches of archangel, double-bagging 10 large bin bags full, beginning what by the end of the week would be a massive pile, ready for collection by coucil contractor idVerde.

As we were finishing up for the day we received an email from a local resident informing us that they had noticed the stream had taken on a rather strange green hue.

Subsequent enquiries have confirmed that this was caused by an ecologically safe marker dye used for investigations being made locally by Thames Water to identify plumbing misconnections.
If Thames Water ask for you help aiding with their investigations then please do so as this will help improve the overall stream health through the nature reserve, and beyond.

Saturday 27th April – Environment Trust Duke of Edinburgh Volunteer Day

After a couple fo days to rest (and recover) the Friends of Berrylands Nature Reserve were back in the reserve again helping to support Francesca Batt the Environment Trust’s new Nature Conservation Manager, and Stephen James, their Operations Manager, who brought along a group of 25 students volunteering as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award programme.

How Francesca and Stephen got all of their tools in Francesca’s little car I couldn’t tell you, but it would be fair to say we were impressed!

The students, Francesca, Stephen and the Berrylands Friends group all set to work with enthusiasm attacking more of the large patches of archangel.

The students made such quick work of the first patch we had found for them, that once they had stopped for a break, we found them another even larger patch!
Undeterred they quickly and efficiently started demolishing this one too.

They would all be more than welcome back any time.

A couple of members of the Friends group also used some of the session to clear lots of debris, both natural, and not, from the stream, helping to improve the flow, and prevent contamination of the water.

Saturday 27th April – Berrylands Adopt-a-Station Planting Day

While the Environment Trust, the Duke of Edinburgh students and some of the Friends of Berrylands Nature reserve were working hard in the nature reserve there was another local project going on nearby at Berrylands Station.

A couple of the Berrylands Nature Reserve Friends joined members of Rose Walk Residents Association, local councillor John Sweeney, GoodGym volunteers and other local residents helping make Berrylands Station, a prettier, brighter and greener place.

The Rose Walk Residents Association have recently adopted Berrylands Station and have been working for months with South Western Railways to develop a plan to make it a much nice place for it’s users and local residents.

They had constructed 5 large woodern planters ready to be filled with sand, compost and lots of bright flowers, making them attractive for both people and local pollinators.

In addition to the planters they also had lavender to plant in the tree pits around the existing trees on the station approach, and even started construction of a bug hotel on the path through to Lower Marsh Lane.

We are looking forward to continuing to support this local project in the future.

Sunday 28th April – Friends of Berrylands Nature Reserve Conservation Volunteer Session

A new day brought much nicer weather which helped revitalise those of us doing double (or even triple duty), following a busy day on the Saturday.

A group of 12 volunteers convened outside Berrylands Scout hut to discuss the jobs for the day, and then set off to base ourselves near the wildlife pond.

One of the main tasks for the day was to remove lots of the algae which had started to establish on the surface of the pond, while being sensitive to the new frog and toadspawn who have made it their home.

The volunteers worked carefully and meticulously first ingeniously ushering the algae toward the bank, and then gently removing the algae, taking lots of care to ensure they weren’t removing the frog and toadspawn at the same time.

Another group of volunteers also set to work watering the new fruit trees in the Green Lane Community Orchard and many of the saplings planted in the nature reserve last year, using the water from the Hogsmill and Surbiton Stream.
Once they had finished the watering they also then cleared lots of brambles which had started regrowing near some of the saplings to avoid competition while the trees establish themselves.

The final group of volunteers disappeared into the woodland digging up yet more bags of Variagated Yellow Archangel and clearing masses of rubbish, both large and small, including an old degrading paddling pool, a metal gate, sheets of roofing felt, and a 23 year old crisp packet (making some of us feel very old) with a use by date of August 1996!

They also dug up loads of sycamore saplings while the ground is still soft enough that it isn’t too back breaking a task.
Although we have no intention of completely eradicating sycamore from the site it is so happy to self-seed that it needs to be kept under control to prevent it taking over the whole woodland, and shading anything else out from growing, which would support a more diverse array of species.

What a great week!

Look at the fantasic pile of invasive species and rubbish collected over the sessions.

Thanks to all the volunteers for a wonderful week of conservation events and helping support other community projects.
Thanks also to Berrylands Scout Group for their ongoing support, allowing our volunteers access to use their facilities during our events.

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