Saturday, February 18, 2012

Take it as read that we are short of water

Take it as read that we have no water, no sign of significant rain and we are heading for our third consecutive dry winter. There are continued murmurings in the national press about the return of drought conditions in the South and East and soon the flora and some fauna will be waking up and looking to quench their thirst. The buds on the willows that I am currently felling are quite swollen and ducks have paired up and the Drake’s minds moving to water borne rape and pillage.

I am still attacking the trees at the bottom of our stretch, there are some substantial Alders that I have left but if they fall will rip up the island on our bottom boundary. There are some nice fish in this bottom stretch and it can fish well, but it is very close to some overhead electric cables that would render an angler’s misplaced cast his last so we leave a protective barrier of unfishable water.

It has also been dry enough to burn off a few reed beds, a little wind has helped moved things along and the new growth in the spring will be much thicker but at the moment they all look a little black. A few Muntjac shot out of one reed bed including what looked like the runty beast that we saw on our final day shooting. The Pigeons are hammering what is left of the Maize and there is some shooting to be had at the top of one of our strips of Maize that borders the main road. I also flushed a Red Kite from the lane that rose slowly from the road with a flat hen Pheasant in its talons, up close and personal they are a very big bird!

The tinning is proving slow going in the low river flow and I am currently moving the sheets of tin every three or four days. The idea is to move the river flow into areas that it wouldn’t normally reach in order to move silt and clean gravel. Not so aggressive as to cause erosion but enough to tickle up the stones, I start at the top and work my way down. In times of high flow it is done in a flash and it is possible to do most of the river In low flows some of the silt in the deeper slower reaches proves immoveable. On the shallows it is also possible to face upstream and rest the sheet of tin on your toes and shuffle backwards downstream, the speeded up draught of water under the tin lightly cleans and loosens the surface gravel aiding weed growth and loosening spawning gravel with a far gentler action than the jet washers that some choose to use.

Over on the Itchen the familiar tale of low water continues. I am currently building a small fishing shelter at the bottom of the beat. Here on the Dever I can reach most bits of bank with my truck or tractor, the logistics on the stretch of the Itchen that I am working on are a little more complicated. With no vehicular access and the only way in at the top of the beat all tools and timber have been punted down the stream to the site of construction with an insurance policy for maritime cargo taken out should things get choppy on the way. When I arrived early in the morning to set sail there was an Otter fishing the top pool, the first I have seen for a while because they have been absent from our stretch of the Dever for some weeks now.

Much of this week has been spent at the vet. Firstly the world’s worst and wobbliest Spaniel had a stroke and for 48 hours was on one leg. Some magic pills have got him back to normal although the Vet’s warning that he may have suffered some mental deterioration fell on deaf ears as that already occurred many years ago. Secondly my employer’s Greyhound suffered a stress fracture of the leg while careering around an icy garden. Employer was away in New York so said Greyhound had to be carted to a vet then on to an Orthopaedic surgeon on the other side of Salisbury Plain for treatment. The surgeon is a bit of a whizz with hounds and has already got the dog up and about bouncing around the garden.

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