The river is down to its bare bones, crystal clear and fishing is very hard work. Fish are not feeding hard with sporadic hatches of fly and evening sedge fishing poor. Most fish that have been caught have been taken on plain nymph patterns that do not splash or startle. There are plenty of fish in the river the low water has pushed several from the shallows to congregate in deeper holes. The blanket weed has smothered much of the ranunculus and Celery. In parts the blanket weed has rolled into a ball and ripped out the middle of a weed bar letting all the water go. Algal blooms in harbours and estuaries along the south coast featured in the newspapers this week and are an indicator of how nutrient rich the water is flowing down some of our rivers. Blanket Weed is a filamentous algae that thrives in warm nutrient rich water this year, the growth this year is particularly luxuriant. The water is not particularly warm although it is low and clear allowing light to penetrate. Nutrient levels cannot be assessed easily with the naked eye, although the amount of blanket weed would suggest it is high. High levels of nutrients get into rivers through direct run off from fields or from Sewage outfalls. Much of the Dever Valley is now direct drilled with a harder field surface than one that has been conventionally ploughed. The intense showers that we increasingly experience run off a direct-drilled field faster than one that has been conventionally ploughed, the sewage works half a mile upstream has, at vast expense, had its capacity increased over the past two years. Neither may be a direct cause of the nutrient rich water running down this river, but then again?
Most nights this week we have climbed the stairs at bed time to find our bedroom invaded by Hornets. An inch or more long, they bumble and crash around the room while my wife and I chase them with plastic cups in our pyjamas. I am not sure if they are our native hornets, or some of the advance force of Mediterranean Hornets sweeping northwards across Europe. Not as agile in flight as a Wasp or Bee they are not difficult to trap and release but they will insist on coming back again and again.
Swallows and Martins are still here although it will be difficult to assess when they are gathering to fly south as there are so few of them. The Pheasants are doing well packing on weight and half are flying in and out of the pen to feed. I have cut all of the rides through the wood, and am now starting to feed them away from the pen towards the drives where we need them to be on a shooting day. There is a Fox about and once the four fields of wheat are cut that we shoot over, we shall have a good crack at shooting it.
The grass has had a late season flush while the fringe is just past its best with many of the flowers starting to fade. The water meadows will require one last cut before falling temperatures steady the growth.