Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Winter Work Begins
And so the winter work begins.
If you start the month of November working in this valley without a busy winter pending then something has gone awry. Every keeper has at sometime been asked at the end of a summer if they have the winter off.
We don't, and at this time of the year the next six months work are clearly laid out and winter work muscles that have grown flacid on a summer of strimming, mowing, weed cutting and fiddling with fish must now be stretched out once more as preparations are made for the next trout fishing season.
The river remains very low and I apologise for mentioning it already but this part of the world really needs rain.
The Itchen has a similar requirement for serious groundwater replenishment this winter .
The level of public awareness of the depleted groundwater resource in the South East of England remains on a par with the diminished groundwater resource itself.
As I write it is raining and I can hear a gutter overflowing. There are still many leaves to fall and this may need attending to, but I will proceed with caution as it was on this day a few years ago that I set out to undertake a similar task and ended up in casualty after falling through a roof. The body's a couple of years older now but the brain's slowly catching up in the wisdom stakes.
At this time of year thirty years ago keepers would have knocked the fringe off and edged in the margins on the river in order to make electro fishing operations more effective and to prepare the channel for increased winter flows.
Nowhere is the lack of water more evident than in the Mill Stream. It is a long time since it has remained fishable throughout the season. I can make a rough guess as to how long it's flow will last in summer by the number of notches the old hatch on the house is open. Eight notches at the end of April would see it fishable until a few weeks after the June weed cut. For the past three seasons there have been no notches in April and the hatch has remained closed at the beginning of the trout season. For the past two years I have had to put a plastic sheet across the front of the hatch in order to stop the few leaks that spurt from between the boards in order to maintain sufficient water height on the mill stream to run the stew pond and streams through the garden. As a result the mill stream is effectively mothballed for the summer and will be cut back when/if increased winter flow allows. The reed growth is lush and is easily cut back but once again with an eye to a driven day shooting, it is currently being fed with barley in order to up the number of wild duck in the air on a shooting day.
Heron are also causing havoc in the river in the current low water and at this point I'll refer you to current method of leaving summer marginal growth and tree growth along the river until levels are on the rise and spawning as done as any cover that will inhibit avian predation is to be welcomed.
While we're on avian predators. Here's a short clip taken on my far too clever phone of Kingfishers at war. I've come across half a dozen violent confrontations this summer. I was a little bit slow with the phone but for the first two seconds you can just make out the pair in the water, each trying to drown the other.
In other news, Madam and myself visited Mottisfont to take in the much talked about Kaffe Fasset exhibition.
It was very good, and come on Nana, up your game with regard to quilting!
Turns out we both like squares but can each appreciate differing hues.
And during the public inquest as to the secret of our attainment of seventy years of marriage I shall eschew the standard reply of "a bit of give and take " and offer up the afore mentioned line regarding squares.
There is an unwritten de Cani rule that the "C" word is not mentioned before November 17th (a rule that, in these lawless times, is increasingly flouted)
Anyway, we need one of the dog.
Didn't we just do Christmas?