Wednesday, April 23, 2014
A Refreshing Change in Tone
Recent weeks have seen a reduction in the amount of chain sawing, the carnage in the wood will wait until autumn as final preparations must be made for the impending arrival of the Trout anglers. Our regulars arrived for lunch a few weeks ago, tide marks on trees betrayed the highest winter water level which occurred around Valentine’s Day, and several expressed surprise at the river’s current level having retreated well within its banks. Last week I trundled around with the tractor and mower, last year at the same time of year I did the same and repeatedly got the tractor stuck and had to resort to a winch and the full gamut of swear words to extract it from the mire. This year the banks have dried out to such an extent that I hardly made a skid mark. I have said it on several occasions in recent years but during periods when it is unsustained by rain this river seems to drop at a far quicker rate than it did ten years ago. Water quality remains a problem in this river during the spring months with a large amount of brown gunk present that lifts from the river bed in the sunshine, before breaking up in broken water to add a milky hue to what should be a gin clear river.
Weed has been cut here in April for the first time in a few years, particularly on the top shallows where the ranunculus grew clear of the water by the second week of April. It was the same during the last “once in a hundred years” conditions in 2001 when ranunculus flourished throughout the summer, unfortunately it failed the following summer in the kind of “Boom and bust” scenario that Gordon assured us he had abolished, I won’t mention the brainless sale of a nations’s gold at a giveaway price and a vindictive raid on personal pensions.
Sorry, mustn’t do politics,
back to the aquatic environment.
She had yet to return to her home.
If you are in Romsey during the festival get on down to the Memorial Park and show your support.
This week I took the first step of twelve on the road to recovery from a surfeit of shenanigans in the chalkstream environment. My exasperation may have become apparent over the past two years, and on occasion even bubbled over into despair. It seems trite to compare this process to a recovery from addiction, but forgive me if I suggest that this winter saw rock bottom reached and a corner turned. Twice in the past fortnight we have been visited by significant “others” from the complicated cabal charged with restoring the chalkstream environment and attaining the standard required by EU Habitat directive.
In a refreshing shift in position, the supercilious tone that emanated on occasion from other quarters of the cabal seems somewhat diminished and successive afternoons of sensible discussion on chalkstream management were a welcome surprise.
River Restoration Strategies are a good thing, but this river was let down to the tune of nearly six figures, by a two year report that cannot be relied upon to recommend a course of action for significant stretches of this river. A strong report would have provided the strategy team with a substantial tool with which to persuade riparian owners and keepers of particular restorative courses of action.
On a personal note I was particularly upset by the reports findings as for the two stretches of river that I look after it intimated that I had not been doing my job properly. On the second of recent visits the conclusion was reached that the report's findings were wrong, all is well on this stretch of river and we had in fact been doing some good things.
Not that any endorsement was needed, press on regardless was tattooed across this arse at a young age.
River Restoration isn’t all about Victor Vole, Dickie the Damsel Fly or preserving genetic purity, it’s about the whole kit caboodle. Man is a part of the chalkstream environment and has been for thousands of years, he has an important role to play in it, so long as he takes care to do so in a sympathetic way.
Thanks for coming out, and the refreshing change in mindset and tone is most welcome and encouraging, but lets just take it one step at a time.
On a lighter note, I was contacted by somebody who enquired as to why Trout liked Olives, and did it matter if they were soaked in oil, brine or stuffed with a Jalapeno. Images of green and black olives bobbing downstream sprung to mind and I will now take a closer eye as to what the anglers are using on the end of their line when they record their catch as falling to an olive.