An Update on Eels in the River Brent

From Lucy Shuker, Brent Catchment Partnership Development Manager,Thames21

Many thanks indeed to the Gurnell-Greenford Greenwayers for keeping up the fantastic clean-up work and for keeping us in the loop.
I am so excited to have the eel pass and monitoring station being installed by ZSL on the Costons gauging weir and to find out how many make it up to the pass when monitoring begins.
Meanwhile, the invertebrate / riverfly monitoring is revealing more variety than expected, even downstream of the Costons Brook confluence and associated inflows of periodically polluted waters.
It’s really good to see how activities by the GGGs and Thames21 are coordinating. Hopefully Ealing Parks Team will soon have the container in place for you to store your own equipment. I hope the Gurnell-Greenford Greenwayers will enjoy getting involved in putting in the river enhancements too when those events happen. The habitat improvements will be really beneficial for the eels and fish helped over the weir by the ZSL pass and EA baffles, which will hopefully be in place soon too.

Museum of London Docklands – Secret Rivers Exhibition

The Secret Rivers exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands is on now and will be continuing till October.  It’s very much worth a visit for those interested in the many rivers that have been wholly or partially lost.  Our own River Brent running through Perivale Park appears on the large map at the entrance but the focus of the exhibition is those rivers that became sewers and were then filled in and built over.  It’s just a pity that Costons Brook doesn’t feature on the map!  The nearest station to the Museum is Westferry on the DLR.

FOG and the River Brent through Perivale Park

In the course of our recent river clean-up opposite Brentside School, we experienced the full effects of FOG (fat, oil and grease) and understood something further about the role of dead vegetation in the river.  Two sets of waders and a kayak were coated in a white, almost impossible-to-remove grease after being in the thick of it both near and in one case, in, a raft of assorted dead vegetation jammed up behind a fallen tree.  The plastic litter we were after had accumulated on top of this raft and in order to access it, we had to break up the vegetation with rakes.  This is when we released the hitherto-hidden FOG lurking there.  So, the raft, which was between 2 foot and 5 foot in depth, was acting as a highly successful filter trap keeping the FOG in one manageable place.  The question now is how the FOG should best be extracted from such a trap so that the vegetation can continue to act as a trap without getting entirely clogged up?  Suggestions welcome! It also begs the question of how the FOG got into the river in the first place. Misconnections? The practice of pouring fat, oil and grease down the plughole in the kitchen sink, down the toilet and even directly into the river? How can we best educate/litigate to prevent these practices altogether? Again, all suggestions are welcome. One thing is sure: we need to stop FOG-tipping.

53 Bags of rubbish!

The Greenford to Gurnell Greenwayers had a fun day today, removing all sorts of rubbish from the  River  Brent. This included one large butane tank (at least 25 Kg), a modern rental bike which was lurking there and 53 bags of very smelly rubbish. This was a canoe job, dislodging items which had become trapped behind a fallen tree and for waders, who were downstream waiting to catch them. Others cleaned the banks. Photos of these heroes are below.

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Gurnell-Greenford Greenwayers April Event

The next clean-up on the River Brent is taking place this Sunday 14th April starting at 1pm.  This event is suitable for all because it will consist of river bank litter-picking as well as in-channel work in waders to clear a large litter-berg which has built up behind a fallen tree.  So, gentle tasks as well as challenging ones – chacun à son goût.  But please don’t take the ‘goût’ too far – the water isn’t drinkable!

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The “Greenwayers” tidy up Costons Brook.

Costons Brook is one of two waterways in Perivale Park, being a tributary to the larger River Brent.  It arises from perhaps three streams flowing from the north-west of the park,  one apparently originating from the nearby  Metropolitan business park.  Tracing the others will require access to specialist maps! At any rate it flows out of a culvert near the children’s  playground in the park, with an aspect that has recently become very much more accessible now that the blackthorn trees on each bank have been removed.

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First London National Park City Network Forum.

Next year the London National Park City launches in July. As a prelude, the first forum, or get together of some of the many organisations in London that promote it with the ethos of a national park took place on November 7th. Perivale Park was represented on this occasion by the RedGreen Group, a small local residents group which, with the participation of Ealing council, is in the process of enhancing the park with spring bulb and summer fruit plantings as an adjunct to the major Greenford to Gurnell Greenway scheme which is helping to transforming the area.

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The Greenford-Gurnell Greenway starts to take shape.

Over the last week, a short stretch of Coston’s brook as it runs through Perivale Park has been transformed. The brook rises in the industrial estates north of the A40 in west Greenford and for its short course it emerges from culverts and then openly runs through the park before joining the river Brent close to  Greenford Bridge. For much of the last 30 years or so, its course through the park has been lined with impenetrable blackthorn. Although these produce delightful blossom in the spring, the blackthorn was effectively blocking access to the brook.

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