Spent most of the day in a small boat with Eric, 'fishing' for rubbish in the River Cray that could not be safely reached from the bank. It was a small, very stable, but rather 'square' and hard to manouevre craft, so it took us a long time to row slowly from the Riverkeeper's Yard down to the main work site at the old Vitbe Mill Pond, then all the way back again several hours later. There is so little clearance under the Maiden Lane and Thames Road bridges that we had to lie down in the boat and propel ourselves by hand, pushing against the underside of the bridge decks - putting me in mind of the way narrowboat men 'walked' their vessels through narrow canal tunnels.
At the Mill Pond the river splits in two, one branch has a boom across it, and this is where much rubbish and woody debris had accumulated, the other drops over a high weir, with both parts merging into Crayford Creek a little further downstream. It was slow-going work and a total of nearly 20 sacks of rubbish and several large items were removed. There was the usual array of metal drinks cans, glass and plastic bottles. Also lots of small fragments of polystyrene - which were a real pain to pick out of the reeds. This stuff should be banned! The most exotic items were a couple of loo seats, which we were able to get out. Further upriver we noticed a lawnmower on the bottom, which will have to be tackled another day.
On the way down to the river 9 Redwing were seen on Perry St Farm. At Thames Road Wetland a Chiffchaff was calling from somewhere within the Reedmace stands in the morning and 6 Goldfinch were on shrubs on the Sewer Pipe Embankment. At dusk there were a couple of bursts of loudish, scratchy song, which may have been a Cetti's Warbler. A local bird-watcher reported 3 from Crayford Marshes today, and I saw a dark brown bird with a strongly-cocked tail on TRW just before dusk last week.
There was a single Grey Wagtail at the Vitbe Mill Pond. On the surrounding banks were a Pyracantha and a couple of Mahonia aquifolium, none or all of which might conceivably have been self-sown. There was also a modestly-sized Gooseberry plant hard up against the Thames Rd bridge abutment.
On the long row back to the yard a couple of Pike were seen partly out of the water, spawning up against reeds, on By-way 105, and a Song Thrush was singing on the former Samas-Roneo site behind Barnes Cray Rd.