Thursday 19 January 2023

International Kidney, Fallow Deer and Brer Beaver

A belated Happy New Year everyone, 

sorry it’s taken so long but to quote Jack Lennon: 

Strange Days indeed, most peculiar mama. 

First morning of the year found Madam, Moss and myself once again bumbling about on the common. Puddles aplenty and a triptych of egret. The Great, the Little and The Cattle. 

Not seen a Cattle Egret before. A stumpy cousin of the other two, and who knows what shakras, portents and runes have been invoked regarding prospects for the new year following it’s presence in the valley on the first day of the new year, but we press on regardless through the month all the same. 

By the way, the Silver Birch pictured above stood and struggled in the centre of the common for many years. A favourite perch of the many avian oddities that dropped in, it was sad to see that it had succumbed to the wind, although it never looked like it was having a happy time of it despite it's array of exotic visitors. 

Muntjac currently mass in this part of the valley and our small garden currently plays host to a substantial, if slovenly male who nibbles daintily at any green shoots presented. Down on the common we took in the resident heard of twenty fallow deer. 

Out bumbling in Harewood Forest, Child A/Maisie (status - married and a few months shy of thirty years old – how did that happen) took in a group of fifty or more fallow.  

While we’re on the age of children and fallow deer, we recently had cause to travel up to the smoke for Child B/ William’s twenty eighth birthday (once again, how did that happen) Recently accustomed to living high on the hog we were directed to a michelin starred gastro pub to provide a celebratory lunch, where the star of the show was fallow deer, possibly from Hampshire served several ways, the centre piece of which was a piece of fillet. 

Anyway, enough social stuff, 

and that really is the sum of my social movements this past few weeks. 

There are days when the only communication I have is with Madam and Moss, Like Lord Ludg I’ve taken to popping into shops with little intention of making a purchase only to converse lightly with poorly paid orderlies on matters of the day. 

The river, yes the river. 

Well rain has done a lot of good. 

Not an exceptional amount as some would have us believe, but it is good to see spring ditches flowing and a bunch of big puddles in the field known across the ages as “Spring Bottom” 

There’s still no water on the football pitch and no flow down the road yet. 

If the new series of Dancing on Ice take the show out on tour I’d like to offer my allotment as a possible venue. It’s a serious frost pocket and digital equipment hanging from shed recorded several nights of minus ten degrees prior to the festive season. If anyone has a reliable source of International Kidney seed potatoes, don’t be a stranger, can’t find any anywhere and they seem to do quite well here as a first early. 

With all the rain I’ve held back on shifting silt as the river is doing a perfectly good job on it’s own. Most work has centred around planet chainsaw with several trees of all denominations cashing in their chips. The latest a couple of lanky Aspen that fell across the track at the bottom of the Andyke. 

News Just In: 

A tentative online order for International Kidney seed potatoes has delivered a surfeit of the things. Seems they got my order wrong and I now have half the UK supply of International Kidney seed potatoes. If any body needs any, don’t be a stranger, I’ve enough for several acres. 

Confusion reigned this week in the valley over a speech given by new EA chairman Alan Lovell in Hampshire. Years ago an Alan Lovell gave a presentation to keepers and owners regarding groundwater data and river flow in the region, in which hapless Alan stated that flows on the Wallop Brook had been particularly reasonable for the previous year only for a now retired and very venerable keeper on the middle river to stand up and reveal that the Wallop Brook had run underground throughout a significant length of it’s course during the period that Alan claimed all had been ok with regards to flow.

Several keeper’s remember the moment when the quality of Alan’s data was questioned. 

Seems there is more than one Alan Lovell. 

Fingers crossed the chap featured in The Thunderer this week is not the same said man, and the original Alan has taken a more creative course, as he seemed to be doing with regards to data presented. 

One thing that whichever Alan Lovell it was who gave the latest presentation got right was the need for anybody with an interest in the aquatic environment to lobby their MPs with regard to the dropping of EU standard environmental protections. Pre Brexit, EU law was used successfully to hold several to account over their trashing of the aquatic environment or a failure to adequately protect the aquatic environment.  

New son in law got in touch last week with a link to a newspaper article regarding Beavers in Hampshire, and he wasn’t referencing the scouting association. 

Apparently some misguided soul with far too much money and very little knowledge of the chalk stream environment has got themselves a couple of beavers and built a big pen on a water course not far from here. 

The aim is to promote them as the future of chalk stream management. 

At which point could I question all those trusts, associations and dimbulbs who promoted the removal of all hatches and sluices on the chalk streams in the quest to eliminate “perched streams”  Hatches and sluices that had for years done the job that can only be described as “Beaver Plus” and managed by an animal with a bigger brain and capable of more sympathetic management with regard to what water goes where. 

Beavers may be of benefit to the headwaters of river systems prone to high levels of direct run off following heavy rain, where their wooden dams delay the entrance of heavy rain to a river system, but in chalk valleys this is not a problem, 

So come on all you Trusts who purport to have great knowledge of the Chalk Rivers, who, over the years, have promoted the cause of letting water go rather than holding it up. Stand up and say that the UK’s rivers vary greatly in characteristic and Beavers may not be the answer for all.

Wouldn't it have been preferable to raise knowledge of how to use those hatches and sluices to promote the aquatic environment and biodiversity rather than rip the things out altogether.  There's a wealth of lost knowledge on how to manage water in a chalk valley, and those guys who built most of those hatches sluices had a lot more water to manage than we do today, 

but no, chances are it could be over to you Brer Beaver.

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