Friday, June 7, 2019

Dunderheads, Weasels and Coot Club

Dulce et decorum est pro pluerit.




In your face Mogg,

Fans of Wilfred Owen and Asterix will have gleaned that I am pleased that it is raining.



This week we received word from command centre central via the medium of television that groundwater levels are perilously low and preparation must be made to be a little more abstemious with the old eau.

Well better late than never eh lads.

The Riparian owners association have also been on with the same message, if a little underplayed, regarding, river levels in the coming months.

Regular readers of this guff will be aware that concern regarding groundwater levels has been a regular subject for some time, at least the last five years.

Unwilling to rely or trust groundwater level data gathered, we have relied on visual and anecdotal evidence which supercilious data fans immediately file under "the ravings of loons and cranks"

Which is fair enough, because yes my name is Chris de Cani and I am a crank.

But a crank who has spent twenty eight years walking besides and falling in and out of this stretch or river. Using whatever water is available to make this stretch of river as good (biodiverse) as it can be. I know what a full river is like to work with, I know what a low river is like to work with. I can look at springs without the aid of a spreadsheet and see how strong they are flowing. Ok, my eyes are not what they used to be but I can still take the lid off two boreholes not far from here and shine a light down to see where the groundwater level is. I started chucking this guff up some years ago following frustration over the unwillingness of policy makers, trusts and associations to listen to folk who spend their working lives working with the groundwater fed rivers. A "little voice" in debates that affect the aquatic environment in which we work.

Further qualifications for being a crank, the temerity to draw his own conclusions and then shout about it.

A voluble crank.

The fact that I have been chucking this guff up now for over a decade while the chronic depletion of the aquifers continues, makes me quite cross at times.


An irritable, voluble crank.








Regular readers will be aware that I occasionally get distracted, both at work and while providing a record of my movements here online. Occasionally subjects that have no relation to chalk stream life crop up, or I physically wander off out of the valley with Madam carer.

An addled, irritable, voluble crank.

But an addled irritable, voluble crank who can see the chronic depletion of the aquifers in this valley all the same.


The chronic depletion of aquifers - a difficult state of affairs that Agencies refuse to acknowledge due to flawed data and Corporations hide at the back of the cupboard as there are dividends to be paid.

With the flame alight, I could go on,

And I shall.

This over reliance on data to gauge groundwater levels is not going well. The last time that water use was restricted it was found that several regions in the south should have implemented measures weeks earlier as groundwater levels had not been accurately measured. Our local water company is again under investigation by OFWAT over the accuracy of data collected regarding water abstracted and water discharged into waterways.

If a third world country or failed state was behaving in such a way with a precious national resource we would be very quick to condemn them as corrupt.


An even angrier, addled, irritable, yes irritable and increasingly voluble crank.

Leaving it this late to bring up the subject of water saving measures for the summer of 2019 is the equivalent of letting the tide come up as far as King Canute's ears before issuing the advice

"I don't think it's working my Liege"

The Thunderer reports today that The CEO at Command Centre Central -James "Dougal" Bevan was enticed out of the newly refurbished executive washroom to confront water companies over possible water shortages in some regions this summer after being lobbied by twenty environmental trust and associations concerned about the possibility of water shortages this summer.

There now follows a leaked transcript of the lengthy meeting between the two parties:

Dougal Bevan: So what is it about this water thing then lads

Weasels: Don't you worry about it Dougal, we have it all in hand, we'll just draw a little more water out of the well and and it'll be grand.

Dougal Bevan. Oh, that's grand then lads, grand. Water eh, tut.

The Thunderer reports the Weasels' (Several of whom are under investigation for the use of dodgy data - did I mention that?) reaction as

"They did not expect hosepipe bans this summer but they may need to take more water than usual from rivers and boreholes.

The Thunderer also reports Dougal Bevan and Command Centre Central's response as:

"We are taking action to minimise the environmental impacts should we have a repeat of last summer's weather.

Dougal Bevan: Well done the lads, well done. Now where was I up to in that nice new executive washroom.

Weasels! Dunderheads! and Numbskulls!

An angry, addled, irritable, voluble crank, now playing fast and loose with exclamation marks!

Regular readers of this guff may remember the spring hole that Lord Ludg and myself furnished with the sword Excalibur emerging from its central point.

Here's a photo of the same spring hole taken this week that The Thunderer are welcome to put into print or present to the aforementioned Weasels and Dunderheads. It may not fit in a spreadsheet or be computer compatible but a visual inspection will confirm that the spring hole has dried up.

In early June

For emphasis, here it is again.

This spring hole has not dried up in the twenty seven and a bit years that I have been falling in and out of this stretch of river. Even in autumn after the most arid of summers.


Once again, Weasels! Dunderheads! and Numbskulls!






I'll pause there to take ten minutes in the cupboard under the stairs. Things make sense under there.

Right, where were we?

Oh yes, I work on a chalk stream.

Have done for many years and it used to be full of these critters. An aggressive cove with a brood to protect they will displace duck. Years ago each autumn we'd have a coot shoot, there were that many of them.
Previous generations of keepers in this valley enjoyed them with a moorhen side for tea, a very dark meat they are an acquired taste. This specimen haunted our house boat in Amsterdam, but there are few left in this part of the valley.

Arthur Ransome would despair as Coot Club is no more.

The dabchicks have gone too.

A dabchick nest midstream on flowering ranunculus is a lot of fun and a staple in these parts most years in May. But with reduced flows (I know, I know) the weed is slow to grow and dabchick numbers are down.

Not because of the low flows, but because like Mother Coot, they are flightless aquatic birds.

At which point I'd like to return to the land of Mogg and issue the old lie in Latin that Tarka only eats eels,

but Google translate refuses to co-operate.

Moorhen just about get away it because they can get a few feet up in the air.

Fishing for trout has become increasingly difficult as it always does towards the end of the mayfly. Hatches of mayfly have been a little disappointing of late. We've not seen the mass raves of dancing mayflies getting jiggy in the evening that we have in recent years. This may be due to the wind that seems to blow persistently each day with the dance taking place in discrete sheltered areas rather than out in the open above our garden table. Currently numbers of fish caught are up on previous seasons and there are plenty still bunched up on bends. There isn't much weed to be cut in June bar tickling up a few patches of water parsnip and ribbon weed.

Reading this back, I seem to have gone on, and got quite cross so I'd better push off and do something a little more soothing. Clint Eastwood may have been on to something when he promoted talking to trees.

Here's Clint offloading via the medium of song.

Consider yourself suitably soothed



Apologies again, that may not have been soothing for those who can carry a tune.

1 comment:

The Two Terriers said...


Here, here. Now it's raining all is well but how long to the next dry spell and a water shortage. We've only had two and a half inches since 07.00 on Monday but a farmer ten miles or so away told me he's had the pleasure of four inches up to Tuesday evening and some of his potato fields are underwater. Never mind it usually is pouring on June 16, the coarse angler's Christmas Day.

A good post post TVRK, a pity nobody in power listens. Best wishes, John