Wednesday, 8 September 2021

September Succeeds in Its Efforts to Have Us Forget Summer.

Lawks a mercy, it’s September! 

Are we sure about that, and if so, how did that happen? 

Did I miss August and July? 

Maybe Bernard Williams was on to something after all with his theories regarding the ninth month. 

Looking back on here it appears I was present for some of it but there are definitely gaps. 

Have we had the mayfly? 

To mangle a quote from the great Graham Taylor (for football read life) 

“In life, time and space are the same thing” 

And by way of getting the old ball rolling again here’s a few more quotes from the great Graham and possibly also Bernard when in wine. 

“To be truly happy we must throw our hearts over the bar and hope that our bodies follow” 

“Shearer could be at 100% fitness, but not peak fitness” 

“If it stays as it is I can’t see it altering” 

“Very few of us have any idea whatsoever of what it is like to live in a goldfish bowl, except, of course, for those of us who are goldfish” 

I think five quotes is enough from the much missed Graham Taylor and wizard of Watford FC and his assistant Bernard Williams. 

Turning to a subject more germane to the piece we will now attend to the river. 

After a frenzied May and June (I do remember that) and July and August going missing, as we have now established we currently find ourselves in the month of September, when fishing on the Dever always picks up. It has been relatively lightly fished with many rods taking a much needed holiday or touching base with family and friends they have not seen for some time.
The recent warm spell has sent most fish to the bottom during the day emerging as the light fades to slash at sedges who muster in reasonable numbers. There are often a few sedges about when Moss and myself undertake our opening skirmishes of the day, with the odd fish taking on the surface. But once the sun is up, fishing has been difficult with fine presentation key. River levels are the best they have been in September for some years, weed continues to be verdant and the insidious blanket weed that is the blight of warm low water conditions, has been slow to get going.
There’s a Great Egret on the river some mornings and we’ve a lot of duck about. They normally push off to the stubbles at this time of the year for a feast of fallen barley. There are plenty of barley stubbles in the valley this year, maybe the harvesting efficiency quotient of the modern combine is now so high that very little grain is left behind in the field. I’ve been topping the meadows this week, a gear lower on the tractor than normal as the growth is so much taller and thicker this year. All the important seed heads had formed and there were plenty of mice and shrews scuttling away from the oncoming tractor. One critter conspicuous by its’ absence is brer grass snake. Not seen one all summer (that I can remember) and they normally do quite well around here, maybe it’s been a bit too cool or wet this summer. 

There now follows a short piece on why the much lauded “beaver’ is not quite the thing required on a southern chalk stream. 

If a Beaver is a good thing for a Chalk Stream then my cock's a lobster: After Hugh Falkus

Short piece concluded. 

We may need a little more explanation as to why that is so at this point –ed 

On rivers with different characteristics to a chalk stream, Beavers and their dams may have merit in delaying the entrance of heavy rain to a river system prone to flash flooding. On southern chalk streams there have been systems of hatches and sluices used to move water around the valley via networks of carrier streams for aeons. Where the beaver would take down a tree with its teeth to form a dam to hold water back the riverkeeper has a series of hatches to which he can introduce or remove boards in order to control water level. It is possible to hold water back or let water go. Fifteen years ago there was a push from Command Centre Central to rip all these historical hatches out, and many have exited stage left, in the name of creating a “wilder” looking river channel. Perched streams (holding water back) were not to be encouraged and what did all these dunderhead keepers think they were doing with their funny ways with boards. Bob Beaver, despite his propensity to create perched streams is now being championed as the saviour of aquatic habitats and fighter of flooding, which may be half true on some river systems, but not the southern chalk streams where man has managed the flow of water for a variety of reasons for thousands of years.
I have said it before, but there is a big bucket of lost knowledge on how sets of hatches were used to move water around a chalk valley. Rather than issue the edict “rip out all the hatches and let the beavers have a go” Asses each set of hatches, work out what is achievable with a given amount of water and determine whether it is of any benefit to the river in the current climatic conditions. 

Fashion Tip: 

If beavers do appear in the chalk valleys of the south as they have done following illegal introductions to other rivers. Davey Crocket hats (fake of course) will soon be “de rigueur” in the fleshpots and gin palaces of Stockbridge. If a population ever became established on the common there'd be permanent puddles on the High St.

In Pando news, I continue to be pinged. 

Probably about a dozen times now, all swiftly followed by an NHS App message informing me that I do not need to isolate (We continue to test twice a week due to Madam's pedagogue status and all have come back negative)

It seems terribly efficient and I’m sure the system was created for the common good with nobody lining their pockets in an opportunistic way at the expense of an unsuspecting electorate 

One day I was pinged after spending a whole day by myself on the allotment, which was either bizarre or exciting as the App may now be so clever that it also detects tomato blight, lumbago and chronic lethargy.

No comments: