Friday, May 30, 2014

A Mayfly Feeding Frenzy and a Bizarre Bassoon (not Clarice Cliff)

Apologies over the delay in posting but I have been cutting grass that grows while you watch it and have also paid a flying visit to Nanook of the North to bother some salmon, more of which later.

Currently we are experiencing some superb hatches of Mayfly, they started relatively early in the month but these past few days have been nothing short of spectacular.Seen here for the first time are a couple of videos, one from above the surface that doesn’t do justice to the masses of mayfly and one from below where one of our more senior fish embarks on a ten minute feeding frenzy. Unfortunately The Nicholas Chientaroli trio were unable to give of their best in the medium of free jazz on this occasion and tuning issues have forced the removal of a groundbreaking musical score,

Maybe next time Nicholas,

Avant garde’s all very well but let’s keep a little more discipline in those bizarre bursts on the bassoon.

The fish in the film has not been given a name, It is not a Disney production or form part of Springwatch. A small camera was carefully concealed in a bed of a ranunculus to film this fish that had been on station for three days and in the river for a few seasons. Although the clip is only ten minutes long the fish fed hard for over forty minutes on both hatching mayflies and spent mayflies. The next day it was not on station and as is often the way with some fish during the heaviest hatches of Mayfly, it took a day off from feeding and hunkered down under some weed

The second film was taken the day before the first from above the surface of the water by my own fairish hand, The fish can be seen as an ectoplasmic shape in the centre of the river downstream of some water celery. From above it is a very pale coloured fish, having spent several days lying on bright gravel, but it is possible to make it out moving left and right across the flow as it gets its eye in on hatching mayfly without actually rising.

This week water clarity issues have melted away and this stretch is sparkling in a manner that it has not done for some years with verdant weed growth, a bushy fringe and luxuriant water meadows. Some sunshine would be nice, but the current lushness of the chalkstream environs makes up for the grey and drizzle and green is definitely the season’s favourite colour. Sit down on a bench and you can see the grass grow, and mowers and strimmers graunch their way through the interminable task of cutting wet grass, which today disturbed a brood of very young pheasants in the meadow on the middle bends who were forced into their first short flight as I approached on the big blue tractor.

Kingfishers are also feeding young and while huge numbers of minnows hang in the river one adult Kinger continues to try and gain access to the fry tank that houses our own brown trout fry. Three weeks ago I saw the biggest Roach I have ever seen. As I crossed back over the bridge from the fishing hut I looked directly down into two feet of clear water and was surprised to see half a dozen Roach in some slack water at the tail end of some ranunculus. Not normally a regular haunt for redfins it was spawning time and in such a condition we are all sometimes driven to strange things, the smallest was a pound and three quarters, four were good two pounders but a broad backed fish that I initially took for a chub was the Jennifer Lopez of the group that I put at over three pound. The biggest carp I have ever seen I clocked from a bridge feeding in the River Lot in the middle of Cahors, it was over forty pounds and instigated a reaction that can only be conveyed in asterisks and deleted letters, but which a passing frenchman seemed to understand. A similar reaction resulted from catching sight of this redfin, it is without doubt the biggest roach I have ever seen in any river.

Politics pending,

apologies, but rather than send me sharp emails and messages if this is not your thing, please skip to the picture of a mayfly having the time of its brief life.

I was away for the European elections, which is probably just as well as I didn’t have a clue as to who to vote for. With my chalkstream hat on, Flashy must be rubbing his hands at a noisy UKIP whose success may lead to an easing of environmental protection afforded to the chalk rivers of these isles, so frack away chaps the shackles are off and F*&% the aquatic environment. With fascism on the rise in other parts of Europe, it’s worth a thought for those brave blokes who fought at Montecassino who were commemorated the other week who thought they had this one beat. I won't go into detail but I still have no clue as to who to vote for next year, putting my chalkstream hat back on it could be The Green Party, although I will need a pension soon and I don’t think they have any financial planning and I suspect old folk will be required to exist on foraging and an extensive range of home-made pickles and preserves.

Done, done, diddly done, no more politics, and here’s the picture of a Mayfly with a smile on its face.

Sorry that's a dead one, hence no smile.

Several mornings this past fortnight, Otis and I have been accompanied on our first bumble of the day by a Barn Owl, a young bird it does not seem to be the brightest of birds and we are able to get quite close before it flops away to the next tree to take in our movements. It may have come up from the Common, where hunting may now be difficult or other owls have sent him elsewhere but he has found some easier hunting along the conservation hedgerows and beetle banks that surround our neighbouring field and would do well to stick around as since the barn up the road was converted into a house we have seen fewer barn owls around here, despite the plethora of owl boxes, some of which occasionally play host to our neighbours cat. Many years ago when the neighbouring barn was derelict it played host to a senior barn owl for quite some years. One evening when Child B and myself were returning home down the lane in the blue pick up from junior football practice on the local recreation ground, it flew parallel to the vehicle eight feet away from Child B’s open window for a hundred yards or more. Harry Potter was quite the thing at the time and had he had his coarse fishing landing net Child B would have plucked the bird from the sky and taken it home to be his own personal Hedwig, an U12 footballer’s plan that was scuppered by the owl exiting stage left to the barn in which it resided for a good few years before it was converted into rental accommodation by the neighbouring estate.

To continue the theme of wise owls, Child A has completed her degree which it turns out is a first class honours,

which I guess trumps my 2011 Hants FA Groundsman of the year level 7 Runner Up, so Mdme has now removed the certificate from above my side of the marital bed,

which seemed a little opportunistic.

Mdme and myself are very proud and not a little surprised that such an achievement has been attained in the eye of a three year social storm. Child A plans to travel a little, initially on trains around Europe and then a little further afield, possibly in planes, before returning to be a student for as long as she can get away with, which is fine by us.

Well done Maisie (Child A)

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