Friday, 24 May 2013

Deptford Creek Low Tide walk - 19th May 2013

by Victor

Turned out nice again. With the weather not doing what it had been predicted to do, 8 of us gathered in sunny SE London for a guided walk along Deptford Creek, the tidal part of the River Ravensbourne. This was one the monthly walks organised by the Creekside Centre ( ) and led by the knowledgeable and enthusiastic Nick Bertrand.

We were instructed to find a walking stick and a pair of waders in the changing room, and after an introductory talk on dry land we descended into the creek, splashing our way along as Nick talked about the history of the inlet, some of the structures that line it, and – most importantly – the wildlife that exists (and in some cases thrives) here. During the 2 hour walk we saw native birds including grey wagtail, moorhen, swans and ducks, and invasive species such as the mitten crab and Asian clam. The wildflowers that line the creek (some native, some not) were also pointed out. Dipping nets were emptied into a bucket, revealing how the shallow waters were teeming with shrimp, and were also home to flounder and leeches. The flounder were particularly interesting – these fish can be seen on UK dives, and go through an extraordinary metamorphosis as they grow into adults: one of their eyes migrates to join the other, so that both are on the same side of the head – useful if you’re a bottom-dwelling flatfish.

Nick told an interesting story about shopping trolleys. Some years ago, the Environment Agency came to the creek and hauled out hundreds of them. The result: the creek’s fish population plummeted. We all know that rubbish and junk can be harmful and dangerous to wildlife (some of us are still haunted by the pictures we were shown at school, of mice and frogs trapped in glass bottles), but as divers we’ve often seen how wildlife can also make good use of human-made structures and dumped objects. It seems shopping trolleys proved similarly useful to fish in Deptford Creek.

With the sun still shining, we all ventured to the Bird’s Nest PH for a cheeky afternoon drink before hometime.

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