Monday, December 8, 2014

Sleep sound, for tomorrow we march on Elstree!

First real frost and the outdoor fuchsia that remained in flower into the first week of December finally gave up and went off to bed. Forty eight hours of frozen ground has provided a definitive full stop to 2014 for those elements of nature eager to prolongue the party. On a personal note the stingers that up until the cold snap maintained their midsummer heat and brought me out in wealds for much of the week will not be missed. Bumbling about the wood dealing with the arboreal carnage that resulted from last winter's weather, even Otis approached the end of his tether as each evening he scratched away at the coconut mat to sooth stung puddies, the ladybird may make a case for a nettle, but currently they are the devil's own weed.

Initial estimates of the number of felled trees to be attended to have been revised and the stump count of forty feet tall Christmas trees that have been dealt with so far is approaching three figures. It's a hairy business and requires a little thought as to where each cut must be made, root-balls of over a tonne in weight flip back into holes and trunks that are bent over and whose tension is concealed by the upper branches of a neighbour who lies perpendicular and prone across its midriff, spring back spectacularly when an ill considered cut is made.

I've a few bruises and a lump the size of an egg appeared on the back of my hand one afternoon following further skirmishes, but nothing can be done bar blast on and keep going bananas with the chainsaw. Access is solely on foot and softwood such as this won't last beyond another twelve months as it soaks up water like a sponge and quickly rots. We have enough wood stacked for the next two winters already so much of it is being burnt in the wood with a small percentage left for the bugs and fungi. The pheasant pen beneath the fallen trees is a complete right off and will have to be reconstructed from scratch but all the wire intermingled with roots and branches is an additional complication as it soon takes the edge off the saw if it comes into contact with the chain.


Pixie Lott, has just been voted out of Strictly at the quarter final stage.

NNNNOOOOOOOO! how did she ever come to be in the dance off? She is one of the best that has ever been on the programme,

Why Len, why?

Sleep sound, for tomorrow we march on Elstree.

Note to self: It is a TV programme proffered, and not a genuine dance contest,

and that's from a hoofer who has won in Blackpool, albeit it on a stage in a nightclub on a Saturday afternoon, after the wrestling with a new age routine that included a series of forward rolls and headstands, but that's for another day.

More news as we have it.

but now, a formative piece of Nordic Noir

See the genesis of Wallander

Having maintained that cormorants find fishing the Dever a tricky business, Graculus is now making a concerted effort to master the art. Three flushed from a tree on the island in the flight pond. Late evening perambulations confirmed that it is not being used as a roost, but I have seen Noggin the Nog's budgerigar flighting this valley most days in the last two weeks.

Currently the river level is ok, spring ditches have yet to break through but a glimpse down a well in the middle of a water meadow revealed a reasonable level of groundwater and springs would be expected to break early in the new year. Last winter shifted a lot of gravel in the river, over on the Itchen a substantial amount was thrown up and out of the back of the main pool and a large gravel bar that remained weed free throughout the season, here on the Dever the experience was similar but on a smaller scale and brown trout spawning this month have found digging their redd a relatively easy business and in some cases they have shifted twice as much gravel as would be expected.

And so to the perennial task of providing reports to various quarters on what has occurred in this valley during the past twelve months. The river's riparian owners association produce an annual report to which most keepers contribute and also serves as a bellwether to thinking on all things chalk stream. October 2013 saw this stretch of the Dever on its knees with record low flows and much guff being spouted by the complicated cabal laying claim to be saviours of the chalk streams, which led some who tread these banks to a state of despair. The "get out of jail" card was played and a wonderfully wet winter recharged aquifers and restored a sparkle to chalk rivers that had been absent for some years. In among the sogginess of last spring a damascene moment occurred and after a succession of visits from those up to their ears in promoting river restoration strategies a refreshing change of tone was all too evident. The pendulum had swung away from the extreme "rewilding" that some were vociferously promoting, and for man to step back and undertake a watching brief, and there was acknowledgement that management by man can be of benefit to the chalk stream environment. Keepering they used to call it, and provided it is done well, with a sympathetic eye to both flood defence and biodiversity, chalk rivers will continue to flourish. The winter floods may have been bad news for some but they had the added benefit of providing a little clarity to the thought processes of those charged with implementing habitat directive and river restoration strategies in the chalk stream environment.


Child A and some such thing she's written is now a feature on Google Scholar, which I'm sure was some form of 1980's canned lager. These long words which are beyond the comprehension of Madam or myself, are also to be published in some journal, which we will both read but not understand but clutch with maternal pride.

She's a day younger than George Ezra and all he can come up with is three chords and a rumbling bass baritone on the One Show, although I have heard say he has some ability........... but is he on Google scholar?

Not a bit of it,and he had a 24 hour head start, Well done Maisie!

Here's Chris with some news from the envrionment.

In 2015 for the first time, any brown trout stocked into this river must be triploid as the National Trout and Grayling strategy is implemented. Substantial reaches of the Test and its' tributaries have been stocked with triploid brown trout for some years now, others have a record of stocking with diploid trout for even longer. Surveys are regularly undertaken on this river to provide an assessment of fish populations for EU habitat directive. Included in that survey is an assessment of whether each brown trout in the sample is considered to be wild or stocked and numbers of each duly noted. Why is this counting of "wild" brown trout being undertaken, how accurate is a visual assessment of a brown trout's provenance and do the results of these surveys demonstrate that there is a significant difference in the numbers of brown trout receiving a "wild" classification between that stretch of this river that has been stocked solely with triploids and that stretch that has been stocked with diploid brown trout. If results for this river do support a successful strategy, why isn't it being shouted from the rooftops to nullify the naysayers?

Recently the Wild Trout Trust newsletter was thrust under my nose and I was held by the back of the head, threatened with woody debris, and ordered to read on

A few quotes jumped out,

"Wild broodstock schemes: fraught with issues and, in all probability not the solution to more fish in the river"

Maybe not always, but in my humble experience they can work, but success is site specific, influenced by habitat management plans and should not be discounted

"WTT is not against stocking - we recognise that many clubs would fold if they could not stock. WTT is not a pro triploid lobby"

The WTT may not be anti stocking but several of its members are, I have received the emails after the words "rearing fish" and "stocking" appeared amid this written rubbish a while back. Stocking is required in some rivers to provide income streams from angling in order to implement habitat directive.
The WTT have come across as a pro triploid lobby for a very long time and I have heard them make many noises to that effect.

"Triploids rise(if anything) slightly better than their diploid counterparts"

Apart from the supercilious nature of this statement, there are many who would dispute it and also attest that triploids have a tendency to shoal.

There's a National Strategy been formed on the back of this, which is perceived by some as a bit of a bugger's muddle, but I won't go on, and indeed can't, as upon my release, the newsletter was used to light the fire that evening, but suffice to say the vein on my temple threatened to throb and I almost repaired to my cave to shake my fist angrily at the outside world,

but refrained,

and sat down to read something a little more lucid (Prostate Years, Moley always serves as a restorative on such occasions) and make preparation for emails brim-full of internet enlightenment for this piece of impertinence regarding the WTT.

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