Kingston University Biodiversity Action Group

02-07-14: Balsam, banks and butterfliesStockpiled

A slight delay in reporting on the last balsam bash, but there are a few upcoming events that I wanted to let everyone know on to find out more. 

Our post today revolves around the three B's:

Firstly we had a great second day of balsam bashing:
Goslings speed testing the river the morning of the bash

The usual suspects and a few new faces

The danger zone - balsam up stream of our renaturalised bank at Knights Park

John having fun pulling up the balsam 

Lauren managed to keep her feet dry as she crossed the river to tackle the other bank.
we managed to get fairly far downstream, tackling balsam on both our side of the Hogsmill and on the opposite bank, clearing a lot of the balsam and everyone's hard work was rewarded by a brilliant KUSU picnic.
Stockpiled Balsam before bagging up

Sarah and David bagging up the balsam

The end of three mini balsam bashes a pile big enough to lie-down on

A slap up KUSU picnic 
But we were only able to get so far, the main issue with the balsam is that we have a continuous source of seeds coming to our site from upstream. We have a constant battle to stay on top on our own plants as do other organisations who work along the river.

The Wandle Trust have found the source of the balsam on the Hogsmill and are organising a big balsam bash to help reduce the amount of seeds coming down stream. This will have to be a yearly thing to have any long term impact, but it’s a great opportunity for people to get involved in a project which will have a large scale impact on the catchment as a whole, as well as helping KU sites which abut the Hogsmill.

Follow this link to yesterdays post for more information.

Have you've been walking by the re-naturalised bank and noticed something looks different, but can't quite put your infer on it?...
Orange fencing to trap the rubbish off the terrace
As the amount of litter has reduced a lot, it was time for the orange fencing to be removed.

Toby from S.E.R.T. adding duck flaps to the fencing
We also cut some openings into the chicken wire fence to allow the ducks into the bank by the duck flaps rather then clambering over as some enterprising water fowl were doing.
Looks like this mallard has a blue heart on his head - maybe its his way of showing he 'hearts' KU!

Unfortunately the chicken wire fence has to remain in place for a while, as the high nutrient levels in the water and the high levels of the water have meant that the plants aren't having to work as hard to put down roots - a bit like plant steroids.

To help the planting, we did some supplementary planting of 115 irises in the areas where some of the sedges had failed; we also renewed some of the signs that had been damaged and trimmed back a as much of the false watercress which was overwhelming some of the neighbouring planting.

Placing the plants within reach of our work area

Planting up the irises 

The swan eyeing up a new target
The male swan was eyeing up Bill and had to be drawn away by throwing some of the algae that we were clearing from the embankment further up steam to peek his interest.

We've seen lots of wildlife making their home on the embankment including butterflies.
Grey heron taking flight

Male banded demoiselle sitting on the watercress
Mother and baby feeding in the hogsmill by the embankment

Small white (Pieris rapae) resting on the watercress in the embankment

Can you help us by spending 15 minutes doing a big butterfly count between the 19th of July and the 10th of August?

We’re planning on getting one person from each campus/halls of residence etc. to spend 15 minutes taking part in the big butterfly count – we are hoping to get a record for each one of our sites, and amalgamate and send these through to Butterfly Conservation.

If you are interested, all the information that you need to take part can be downloaded from their website. If you can email me at to sign up and let me know which campus/site you will survey we can see if there are any gaps and let people know so that someone could sign up for a site.

We’re hoping to take part each year, and it would be great if in the long term, we end up seeing changes in the species compositions that we find on our sites.

So far I have one person covering the renaturalised riverbank, and one person at St Georges.

If you work/study/live at Penryn Road, Seething Wells, Kingston Hill, Roehampton Vale, Cooper House, River House, Swan House, Kingston Bridge House, Tolworth Court or any other sites not listed here; and would like to take part, please email me your details and site preference to

Phew, I think that's all for now :)

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