Monday, February 23, 2009
Little rain this week, and much warmer. The river has cleared a little each day while maintaining a good level. Driving children to various parts of the County for various football, cricket or social events it is clear that many of the spring fed streams that dry up through the summer are currently running very well. It is incredible how these streams whose beds are grassed over through the summer can, within a few weeks, turn into a stream alive with aquatic flora and fauna. It is this groundwater and spring flow that makes the Chalk streams so special, gin clear water full of food that supports big fat Trout! The warmer weather has instigated a hatch of fly around midday, The Grayling taking fly from the surface for a final feed before preparing to spawn.
The trout and fish in general have come in for a bit of a hammering this week. An Otter persists with its attempts to get at the fish in the stew ponds, a half tame Egret stabs away in the streams through the garden, while a pair of Heron do the same on the river. Six Cormorants circled the flight pond preparing to pitch in and feast on the Roach and Rudd, while half term guests at the neighbouring holiday cottage tempt the Trout with Kingsmill and Hovis.
We are inundated with pigeons; there are several hundred acres of Rape on one side of the valley that is proving a pigeon magnet. The estate have put a gas gun up there this week that keeps them on the move, numbers of them dropping onto our rolled maize for a snack. Last weekend my employer’s son shot over fifty in a couple of hours in a morning, keepers on the downstream estate filling their boots at the same time.
The tinning in the river is progressing well. I have also started work on some of the Willows on the non-fishing bank that have become a little too intrusive. Some of them needed doing last winter but I was unable to get at them because of the weeks spent cutting up trees that had fallen over in the wind. Some of the Willows while a challenging cast for the angler have started to limit the amount of light getting onto the water and subsequently the weed. More light, more weed, more food. The fringe also suffers when a Tree leans over a little too far; with thinner marginal growth the shaded stretch of bank is open to erosion. It will take a few weeks to get it all done and no doubt a favourite spot of some angler will be irrevocably changed, but the work should pay dividends in seasons to come.
Some areas of bank that come in for heavy use such as at the end of bridges and around the fishing hut are also in need of some care and attention. I have ordered several tonnes of chalk for this purpose. The last time I had some chalk delivered the driver inadvertently tipped it on the end of the much-vaunted Iron age defence ditch. The English Heritage Spy Satellite picking the misdemeanour up within days instigating some frenzied shovelling on my part.