Greenkeeper's Update - Summer 2018
This summer has been one of the hottest and driest on record in the south-west and subsequently there have been some negative effects on the flora and fauna of Barnes Green. Aside from the grass drying out and going brown, some trees have dropped significant amounts of leaves whilst flowering plants away from the pond edge have gone through their growth cycle very quickly and set seed earlier than usual. One direct consequence of the lack of suitable grazing and extreme temperatures was the departure of the swan family to Beverly Brook at the beginning of July, following the disappearance of several cygnets (possibly from heat stress). The Brook has cooler water, more shade, more submerged plants and invertebrates, and gives access to other parts of Barnes. The family have since returned to the Green following the greening up of the grass again but continue to spend time on the Brook too. One cygnet has recently been taken to the Swan sanctuary due to its low weight whilst the other two seem quite healthy. Following the prolonged dry spell we had one heavy storm which unfortunately washed two months worth of road run off and drain sediments into the Brook at once. This sudden dose of pollutants into a stream already with low flow and oxygen levels caused a de-oxygenation event which killed off a significant proportion of the fish in Beverly Brook. Hundreds of dead eels, flounder, chub (some weighing a kilo or more), roach and gudgeon were seen. Other fish kill events were seen across London for the same reasons. The Environment Agency report on this event is currently posted on the little bridge between Green and Common or follow this link.
One can also see notices at the Brook requesting people to limit paddling in the Brook by children and dogs to a Paddling Zone extending approximately 10 metres up-steam and downstream from the bridge. This is to protect the substrate of the Brook from disturbance as this where fish such as sticklebacks breed and young flounder take refuge from predators such as kingfishers and herons. The BCA and Friends of Barnes Common kindly ask people to follow these guidelines and help improve the ecology of the Brook.
There have been a range of maintenance tasks carried out by council contractors on the Green this summer such as pruning dangerous tree branches, cutting back all the hedges and formal planting ahead of Barnes Fair, graffiti removal, and the unblocking and de-silting to drainage systems in the vicinity of the pond. The main aim of the latter work is to prevent untreated road run off from entering the pond during periods of heavy rain. To this end there have also been investigations carried out into the future maintenance and repair of the Oil Interceptor system which filters road run off before passing it to the pond. This work is currently being planned by the LBRuT Facilities and Management team.
Other works in the vicinity of the pond has included the cutting of some vegetation and a few smaller willow trees to create a few viewing windows onto the pond. The bulk of the tree pruning and vegetation work will be carried out in late autumn and winter. At present one can still see pond plants like purple loosestrife and hemp agrimony in flower whist some wildflowers such as white campion, giant scabious, and St.John’s Wort are blooming again following the rains. The Social Green Centre garden has been pruned and partially re-planted and earlier in the summer we hosted the Montessori nursery school for a pond dipping and insect identification session which received very positive feedback
Russell Greaves, Barnes Green keeper