Newtown Food Festival

As usual, the River Severn Custodians will have a stall at the Newtown Food Festival on Sunday 3rd September.  Come and join us or, at least visit if you can.  Chris Kinsey will be leading a short nature walk between 1 and 2pm, suitable for all ages and abilities.  Hope to see existing and potential new members then.

Even more Hate Hogweed

Today (Saturday 14th May 2016) an even bigger team went out to tackle the Giant Hogweed upstream and downstream from the Halfpenny Bridge.  The larger team went downstream and found many specimens but not as many as previous years.  We are winning!  The smaller team went upstream, intending to deal with the nasty baddies up to the Dolerw footbridge and into Dolerw Park.  They didn’t achieve that encountering a major forest around the Longbridge.  Another team will meet at 2 pm on Tuesday 17th May to try to complete this exercise.

The team ready to start

The team ready to start

Himalayan Balsam

Today we cleared a few paths through the Himalayan Balsam to provide easier access to the beach between the Halfpenny Bridge and Long Bridge. This area is well used by fishermen and families and the amount of Balsam removed was negligible. While dealing with these plants we saw that the seeds are ripe and ready for eating. Please do your bit to control this invasive by collecting and eating these delicious seeds. There’ll still be plenty of flowers for the bees!

More Hate Hogweed

Today we had a successful session tackling the Hogweed growing on the recreation area where the Mochdre Brook meets the Severn.  5 Custodians decimated those nasty plants and because the ground was soft we were more successful than usual in getting the roots out.   The impression is quite clear that there are less Giant Hogweed plants than usual and most of them are this season’s seedlings.  We are definitely winning but will never completely stop them of course.  The other good sign is that the native hogweed is now thriving so we are helping the good, local guys.  Well done the team!

There is another session up and down stream from the Halfpenny Bridge on Saturday, 14th May.  All are welcome.


Hate Hogweed

Hogweed Mochdre June 2016

Yes, it’s that time again. The hogweed has crept up on us while we’ve not been looking and is now in urgent need of attention.  See attached photo of some specimens near the Mochdre Brook.

Please let me know if you are available/willing to participate in a morning session on either Thursday 12th May and/or on Saturday 14th.

Mike Davies,

Men from Les Herbiers try Coracling

Following the very successful Custodians stand at the Food Festival some of the more intrepid visitors from our twin town, Les Herbiers, were introduced to the wonderful art of the coracle.   Paula demonstrated the technique then let them loose on the Severn.  With a few mishaps they did well and the only one who got wet was Paula rescuing Daniel Charrier off the rocks.  The photo shows his son, Martin, who is obviously a natural.  Another memory of Newtown for them to take back to France.Coracle 7

Japanese Knotweed

During our recent attack on the Giant Hogweed we also identified stands of Japanese Knotweed and Paula sent a report of their location to Natural Resources Wales.  I’m glad to be able to say that today a team from Natural Resources Wales were out on the river bank spraying this nasty invasive.  If you see more stands of either Giant Hogweed or Japanese Knotweed let us know and we’ll try to deal with them.

More Giant Hogweed eliminated

Today a small group of volunteers (four of us) completed the attack on the Hogweed downstream of the Halfpenny Bridge.  There were some very large samples that have grown considerably since our recent work in this area was curtailed.  There are also a number of substantial stands of Japanese Knotweed developing and the start of a lot of Himalayan Balsam. There are still a few major stands of Giant Hogweed in the region between the Longbridge and the Dolerw Bridge that we will tackle in the next few days.

Parson’s Bridge

There used to be a footbridge (near the ford) leading from the Gro on the right bank of the river to Llanllwchaiarn Church on the left bank.  It was washed away on a number of occasions during flooding, most recently in 1946, see photo.  There is some interest in re-building this bridge as a foot/cycle bridge which would make access across the river easier for the people of Llanllwchaiarn and also provide some interesting circular paths, being developed by Walking Newtown, which would avoid the busy road bridges in the town.  With the current flood defences such a bridge should not be prone to flood water in future.

Your views would be welcome together with any information you may have on the history or use of this bridge, or on access on both sides of the river at the former site of this bridge.

Parsons Bridge sm

Hate Hogweed

Today a team of 8 volunteers split into 3 groups to tackle the rapidly growing Giant Hogweed. We made a substantial reduction in numbers of plants at the Mochdre Brook and both upstream and downstream of the Halfpenny Bridge. More volunteers would have joined us if not for a mix up in the meeting location. We’ll make it clearer next time. In the meantime, a job well done.

Presentations to local schools

Today I finally got to talk to some young people about the River Severn and the Custodians.  I addressed all the pupils at their assembly in Penygloddfa School, Newtown.  They were very interested and asked some good questions.  They loved seeing the live American Signal Crayfish that I took to show them.  The school would like to get involved with some of our activities, most likely litter picking initially.

In the afternoon, with Lisa Barlow from Severn Rivers Trust, I talked to two classes at Brynllywarch House School, Kerry.  Lisa showed the pupils some of the Trust’s leaflets and massive posters illustrating good and bad farming practice in terms of their effect on the rivers.  She also showed them a river fly larvae sample, collected this morning, and pointed out some of the principal species.  I made a slightly modified presentation about our work and showed the same crayfish from the morning.  The pupils also asked some good questions and engaged with the messages we were giving.  This school would also like to maintain contact with our group and would like presentations to other classes and perhaps to join in some of our river activities.

All in all very worthwhile and satisfying to involve some young people.

Eels and Kingfisher

This is posted on behalf of Pete Thomas, our resident fish man.

A few weeks ago my wife pointed out an eel down stream of Long Bridge, it was close to a metre long ! Later on in the evening on our way back, we spotted two eels about 500 mm in length and feeding under the rocks while making their way up-stream. An amazing fish with an even more amazing life story.

Yesterday on my daily early morning walk I spotted a kingfisher flitting up and down the river opposite the Regent Centre, having not seen one for some time.

Finally, I notice there are some items in the river i.e. large and small toy trucks, bicycle etc. Are we able to have a couple of hours to pull them out if I pinpoint them?

Note from Mike: I’ll talk to Sue of Keep Wales Tidy to see if she wants to organise a river clean up.

Penygloddfa School

I recently had a meeting with staff at the Penygloddfa school in Newtown to discuss possible involvement of the pupils in the activities of the River Severn Custodians.  Unfortunately as it was almost the end of the school term it was not possible to talk to the pupils but I will be talking to the whole school when they return in early September.  They did, however, prepare some posters that we intend to use at the Food Festival.  The one below was, I believe, prepared by one of the staff but we do also have a selection of ones made by the children.  Hopefully, we can get the children interested and involved with the river and the Custodians.

Penygloddfa poster sm

Giant Hogweed

Today Joan Avery and I tackled the Giant Hogweed growing on the left bank downstream of the Halfpenny Bridge. We must have destroyed about a dozen, some of them 8 or 9 ft high in full flower. I know, there’ll be more to come but at least these particular ones are no longer a danger.  Our new digging tools, courtesy of Severn Rivers Trust, worked well in getting the roots out, particularly on young plants.

We also saw some very healthy stands of Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam, but declined to deal with them.