The weed is out and the fringe edged in, the river waits for rain. There is a lot of silt accumulated in places that will be easy to shift in the New Year provided we have some rain. The aquifers are at their lowest at this time of the year yet the stretch at Western Colley that was all but dry in July is now flowing suggesting that some supplementary pumping is going on, we certainly haven’t had enough rain to cause it to run and it may be to keep certain discharges into the Dever at the required dilution to avoid problems with weekly water quality sampling, I don’t know it’s just a guess we would be the last to be told if this kind of thing was going on.
There are a few Browns kicking up on the shallows although I have seen very few cock fish to date, they have normally had a month of charging and chasing each other around by now. The Browns in the stew ponds are showing little interest in spawning and it looks like I will be stripping eggs a little later than last year. A Little Egret has put in its first appearance of the Autumn no doubt attracted by lots of fish in clear shallow water, along with a couple of Heron who we chase up the river each morning. The few Grayling fisherman have found the fishing tough with small size 22 nymphs catching most fish, although I have seen fish on the surface in afternoon taking Olives. The Roach look to have fed hard this summer and although they are fewer in number than last year, there are several fish over the two pound mark just waiting for a stick float and a single pinkie on a sunny January afternoon.
I have a lot of chainsaw work this winter, both on and off the river and this past week I began by taking six foot from the top of the gargantuan hedge by the stable block. Each year it posed problems of how it must be cut, from wobbly ladders to a scaffold tower in the back of the pickup it was never easy and had become close to unmanageable, so this year it was forced to bow to the shock and awe of my new long handled chainsaw. I have had a long handled hedge cutter for some years and it is an invaluable tool on the river for doing all the jobs that used to be done with a slasher, but the chainsaw attachment with a couple of extensions although unwieldy, and quite dangerous in company, is very useful and will reduce the amount of time I spend up ladders with a bowsaw, or chainsaw if the health and safety man is not watching...........which he invariably isn’t, so chainsaw it is. It’s not top of the range, and is a 2 stroke which wouldn’t have been my first choice but so far it seems ok. I have had issues with some of the more expensive 2 stroke engines on strimmers, hedge cutters and chainsaws and have had several that claim to be for professional use, worn out in a couple of seasons. Some years ago I switched to a Honda 4 stroke strimmer that has proved to be far more reliable and robust than anything Sweden or Germany can proffer and starts after two or three pulls, it does not rev as high and I can hear the cricket in my headphones. The four stroke engine on my two inch pump that I use intermittently is as reliable and will start second or third pull no matter how long it has stood idle in the workshop.
The Pheasants are all were they should be bar a few errant birds heading for next door’s maize that we chase back over the road and river each day. I have rolled down a couple of rows of Maize which always helps hold birds and everything else besides, there are cobs strewn throughout the woods by creatures feasting on sweetcorn, and while cycling back at night from his shift polishing spoons at the local hotel and spa my son raced a badger down the road that had been munching on the flattened cobs.
I don’t know what is going on with the Ducks, early signs were good but now we have very few visiting the pond despite the offer of some of Hampshire’s finest barley tailings and the company of five plastic ducks to guide them in.