May 26, 2009
Last week was a challenging week for me. The poor forecast caused me to pull the plug on our Signal Crayfish work, Monday and Tuesday, however I rearranged for Wednesday and Thursday. Fate had a sense of irony, as We could have done our work Monday and Tuesday, and although we made a start Wednesday through till 2 a.m. on Thursday rain between 2 am and 8a.m. put the beck up over two feet flooding the area and nearly washing away our equipment. The equipment rescue was successful and so although our work was lost at least we didn’t lose any kit. This was a big set back for both myself and Electro Fishing Services (who we are working with), as we are now entering a busy time that will limit time and effort we are able to spend on tackling these little blighters. However we are determined and we will get there soon! The big plus on the Wednesday was a demonstration of a voltage gradient metre that can be used to determine (when electro fish) that you are fishing with the correct settings. These further reduce the chances of injuring fish, but also on those sites where you’ve caught none and you’re wondering if it’s the electro fishing equipment this device gives you the answer!
I will rewind a little now, and after finishing cancelling all the work on Monday, Stephen and attended a meeting at Stock Reservoir of the Ribble Valley Strategic Partnership – Environmental Theme Group. This had a wide range of attendees from United Utilities (UU) to the Forestry Commission, as well as the various Council departments involved in the Environment. We had an interesting presentation about the SCAMP project UU are conducting on there Hodder Catchment Estate, which despite some reservation by those involved, will have significant benefits for our fish. There aim is to improve water colour and reduce silt content, whilst also keeping livestock from contaminating water. Thus the livestock will not overgraze the banks, resulting in less erosion (especially combined with all the trees they’ve planted) and no trampling of redds. The reduce silt and sediment will not choke our spawning gravels, and it will also reduce the pressure on fishes gills (sediment can cause a nasty mucus build up), and the reduced colour should increase the amount of light available to the aquatic eco system, resulting in better primary production and the follow on benefits of more invertebrates and thus food for fish, bats and birds!
Tuesday we put together a letter concerning the calls for a Public Consultation for Beaver re-introduction in the Forest of Bowland AONB. Although these creatures may have some benefits, and maybe in time there may be a pace for them back in our countryside, there are serious concerns about the negative impacts they may also bring with them, and to introduce yet another pressure into an eco system still recovering seems to be an inappropriate move. The Tweed Foundation (www.tweedfoundation.org.uk) have undertaken a significant amount of work to highlight some of the problems they may bring and also dispel some of the myths about Beavers and Fish.
Thursday after getting back from the Crayfish project, I worked on our proposed scheme on the River Don (Calder Catchment). I have two potential funding sources, I have the quotes and most of the consents so this project is ticking away nicely!
I was pretty tired by 5pm on Thursday having got to bed at 2pm then the flood knocked the wind out of my sails a bit, so decided I needed to recharge the batteries. So when Dave Wilmot offered to take me as a guest on Ribblesdale Anglers water (Many thanks!) I jumped at the chance! Although we caught no fish I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and can see a day with a casting instructor looming ahead. I was also fortunate enough to be asked to fish on the river Irwell yesterday, by a regular volunteer (Mathew Schofield) for the RCCT but now a Trustee for the New Irwell River Trust! Many of you maybe thinking shopping trolleys and rubbish, but I prefer to call them Fish refuges and colour! Mathew was disppointed as he felt the fishing wasn’t as good as on previous visits, however we both managed a wild trout and saw a couple of others, and I really enjoyed myself. The Irwell is very similar to the Western Cleddau (in size and nature )which I grew up fishing so it brought back some pleasant memories. Guaranteed I will be heading back for another cast before the end of the season …. if I can get myself invited again!
May 18, 2009
Well maybe not the real Big Screen. Last week was a real treat for us, as we were included in the making of an industry award film for the Aggregates industry. Our piece was a short piece showing the projects in which Hanson Cement have helped us by providing materials. We filmed the site on Monday afternoon and then Tuesday we did three different length interviews with the fantastic Kate Humble! We hope that once the editing is finished etc that we will be given a copy of the video that we will put up on the website. It might be more interesting than the Jumping fish videos we have at the moment!
On Monday morning I managed to Meet Darren Wilson the fisheries officer who covers the Calder (amongst others) on site on the River Don. We were looking at a site that we hope to put a fish pass on. It is nice and straight forward as well as providing signifcantly greater access to spawning ground for Brown Trout on this sub catchment. We have drawn up a way forward and all we need now is to raise the Cash!
Which is what I started doing on Tuesday. I sent off one grant application for this project and started preparing another - Fingers crossed! Once our interview with Kate was done and dusted Stephan and I headed down to Barrow Brook to look at a possible site for a Habitat Scheme. We definitely have one, so now it’s a case of persuading the land owner to enter a scheme, and then working with them to get the best scheme possible for both parties in place.
Wednesday we had our weekly meeting with Philip, and then headed to Winkley to be look at the Smolt Trap with Mark Rudd the Fisheries Officer for the Hodder Catchment. We were very interested and keen to hear of the results, which seemed encouraging. However it is impossible to know how effective the Trap is, so we have no real quantitative idea of number of fish running. We were also disappointed to hear a 3lb rainbow had been caught in the trap.
Thursday I met Rebecca Tinsley of the EA to discuss Electro fishing locations etc for the coming season, between them and us we have a really good coverage this year. We just have to prey for something like a normal summer, unlike last year. In the afternoon, we met with Grant Talbot who is the new Fisheries officer for Ribchester to Nappa area on the Ribble. It was good to meet another keen and enthusiastic person working for the good of our Catchment. Fingers crossed we will get some nice projects on the go with him next year.
We also managed to get out and look at a potential project for next year. It’s a redundant weir, that is impassable to fish and eels. Last year the EA managed successfully to clean up some long term pollution on this beck, however on our visit there seemed to be the trace of a “slug” of pollution down the beck.
And finally friday cam round, all to quickly as usual, and the weather on the day and the forecast meant I had to pull the plug on our Signal Crayfish work that was scheduled to start today. We are hoping we might yet get on with some later in the week, but it depends on what the water levels are. So after cancelling the work I spent the afternoon putting more work in on the website. I hope that by the end of today you should start being able to see some videos on the site, and also there will be an update on the Trout in the Classroom scheme from Stephen.
May 11, 2009
The Ribble last week certainly got some much needed rain. After such a long dry spell, it was nice to have some water to wash through some of the sediment that had settled, and make sure that the last of the Kelts that had been kicking around made their way back to sea. News has also started to trickle in of some spring salmon being caught which is always nice to hear, and one of 14lbs – by a certain Fred Higham! I know you’re all well aware but just in case, all salmon caught before June 16th MUST be returned.
The Weather made days out of the office slightly less pleasant but this goes with the territory. That said I spent much of Tuesday inside. I started with a talk to Burnley College Conservation and countryside management course students. I enjoyed this and hope they got some use from it. The title of the talk was where the RCCT fitted into the conservation of our river’s. Many were surprised by how much we did, and also that the Calder had fish in it at all!
Tuesday afternoon was spent getting things straight for the Trustees meeting that evening. This went very well and lots of things were added to the to do list. These are Bi monthly meetings, and tend to run on as we are doing so much at the moment that there is a lot to fill in on!
Wednesday we went out with a local Mink trapper and set some traps on our Stock Beck Habitat Scheme as we are sure that we had seen evidence of Mink. We are now waiting to hear the results, and fingers crossed we will have nailed ‘em! In the evening Stephen went over to the Calder Fisheries Consultative AGM, which was very positive and the Calder is lucky to have such dedicated people working to improve the Fishing and River habitat.
Thursday’s break in the weather allowed Stephen and I a chance to put in some post and rail fences to stop sheep utilising our habitat works on Stock Beck to Jump from one side of the river to the other. We also did some site checks on our Signal Crayfish scheme works, as well as visiting another potential off stream spawning channel site, and check on the spate’s effect on the new Ings Beck Spawning Channel. This Channel looks fantastic and we can’t wait to see some fish spawning in there this winter.
Our first Mink trap being place and Stephen putting up some post and rail fence on our habitat scheme
Friday I completed our various consent forms for the Signal Crayfish eradication trial, and looked at a “new” barrier to migration we have been made aware of on Standen Brook. It is a real surprise how much work is involved in such a small trial but this most definitely worth it if we can find a successful method of eradicating Signal Crayfish. In the afternoon I met with Stephanie Peyar to discuss various aspects of this trial and a few other possible research areas that will add both our and the national information on signals.
I also had an email from Jason Pusley of the EA about some kick sampling he and I had done that had brought up a problem in Clitheroe. At the time I wasn’t able to give any real detail due to the process of correcting this issue. Jason has now confirmed it is being dealt with and is happy for me to give out some info. In essence we found evidence of sewage getting into Shaw Brook, we followed the beck up till we found a surface water outflow, unfortunately there was sewage litter on this outflow indicating as a source. Jason worked with United Utilities and found that several houses had misconnections, connecting their sewage to the surface water drain. This is an all to common occurrence with devastating consequences. United Utilities are now working positively with the house owners to remove these cross connections. This is a fantastic result and shows how hard all of the organisations involved work, and in partnership, to rectify these issues. They are never a quick fix, but once fixed there will be an immediate improvement in water quality helping Invertebrates, fish, birds and mammals.
Saturday I fished as part of the Association of Rivers Trusts team in the national water industry game fishing championship. The weather was attrocious and all involved struggled, very few managed to “bag up”, and I only managed a very small perch and two bream – Bream on the fly! Our team managed only 5 fish for 6 anglers, and these were caught by just two of the team! Well that’s fishing and we vowed to do better next year….although I remember taking that same vow last year!!!!
May 11, 2009
Well I am late writing my weekly blog today, and I fear from the work load from now on that this is going to be the case for the rest of the summer, however I am absolutely determined to make sure that I keep it up at least once a week.
First things first, our new look website is online, it is the same address as before: http://www.ribbletrust.org.uk/ but there is a huge amount of content now, and plenty more to look and shortly there will be more to interact on. My blog will Shortly only be on the website so that it’s all in one place, and I can link to content elsewhere within the site. I am really pleased with the website, and if you like it, or not, you can vote on the pole on the home page. If there are any corrections (sorry when you find some corrections) please let me know and I will amend them. Also if you have any suitable content, stories/articles/pictures send them through and we might put them on the site. We hope that soon you will also be able to join the trust online.
Right so last week……. Started as most do with a good session with Philip, filling him in and planning ahead. After that it was sending out some survey data to a few of the EA bailiffs and fisheries team members. A little more work on the afore mentioned website, and also chasing up on some surveys of the becks linked to the quarrying going on around us. I also set up some site meetings for the two fish easements I’ve been looking at. It never sounds as much when you write it down but that kept me busy all day!
Tuesday I attended another Water Framework Directive meeting at Lutra house, it was a well attended meeting with plenty of familiar faces and a few more not so familiar that I managed to get to meet. The WFD has such an implication for rivers and streams and all that are interested in them, it is no surprise just how many meetings about this there are. After this Stephen took me to see the progress on Bezza Brook and the Eel pass and fish easement, things are progressing swimmingly (sorry couldn’t resist that) and hopefully the job will be completed very soon. I also started to get some videos online, using youtube, and if you are a youtube user, why not visit our “channel” which has some short clips of fish on it!
Wednesday I went with Stephen to inspect the completed Ings Beck off-stream spawning channel, it looks absolutely phenomenal and I can’t wait to see fish using it this winter. On the way back we stopped at Chatburn brook to look at where the water drops into the aquifer, and unfortunately found another pollution incident which we reported through Fred Higham to the EA. I met Mel Dyack in the Afternoon to organise a volunteer Himalayan Balsam bashing session, which finger crossed should go ahead in June, if it’s a success more will be planned! We then managed to get a site visit to Hellforest Dyke, a tributary of Stock Beck, which always runs coloured, we have discovered why we thing this is and will be making some enquiries to see if this can be sorted.
Thursday I spent some time on the website while Stephen did the first two fry releases from this years trout in the Classroom. Pendle junior and Dunsop were the first out, and the weather couldn’t have been better. After sorting the last few bits for the Website I managed to organise our next invertebrate training day. This will make us an official Riverfly life – Angler monitoring initiative. I have a list of names for people from last year who want to come along, but if you think you’re not on the list, get onto me email@example.com and I will see if we can sort a space for you. In the afternoon I did some work looking at a possible fish trap for the spillway of Stocks Res. This is in really early planning stage with nothing confirmed from anyone as yet, but is worth while finding out if the planned management changes work.
Friday more work on possible grant schemes, consents and the Signals project. And after work Stephen and I enjoyed a nice Trust Fishing session, we both managed to land a couple of trout and I was pleased to also land two grayling one about 100 or 11 inches and the other 6 inches. Both were in fine condition and went back promptly.
This week is yet another busy one, so expect another long blog post on the new website (http://www.ribbletrust.org.uk/) next Monday!!
May 11, 2009
Last week was a great week both weather and work wise. Monday was it’s usual admin type day, where we sorted out paperwork and planned the week ahead. Philip popped in as usual to chat over a few issues and to make some suggestions. We also nipped down to Pendle Junior school to test the water quality of the trout in the classroom tank, as there has been some algal growth. All nutrients and ammonia were well within acceptable levels, and the algae is most likely the result of the large amount of sunlight the tank receives due to it’s location. Something we have talked over with the School and have found a solution for next year.
Tuesday I attended a Water Framework Directive Meeting on the River Basin Management Plan. I had my doubts prior to the day, but came away feeling like we had achieved a lot in our consultation (quoted by the regional planner on the day I might add!!) as well as thrashing out how we can help the EA to start achieving it’s objectives, hopefully before the deadlines of 2027 they have been set. There was a good range of people there from the Wildlife trusts, to the RSPB and 4 rivers trusts. It was nice to finally meet Sarah Littlewood from the Lune Trust, and catch up with the others.
Wednesday I went up to the Yorkshire dales to help Paul Bradley with his White Claw Crayfish scheme. The aim of this scheme is to eradicate Crayfish Plague from it’s only known location in the Ribble. It is a novel and hopefully effective approach, that halts the addition of plague free crayfish to a contained pocket of crayfish, thus allowing the plague to die out. It was good to meet some more EA staff from different departments, such as Biodiversity and the Ops Delivery team, and the Bacon and Egg butties made by Ian Fleming of Manchester Anglers went down a storm! On the day we rescued from dewatered (part of the works) several hundred White Claws, similar numbers of Bullheads and a single Trout.
Thursday the trust and a contractor ran an equipment check for our latest American Signal Crayfish (ASC) Trial, which overall was successful and a further trial will be run in due course. More details of this will be released as and when we have finalised the works. It is a hugely important scheme, and top priority for the trust.
Following on from this on Friday Stephanie Peay and I had a talk about other ASC related work we want to carry out this year, and will be meeting in May to sort out details. Specifically work to highlight the ecological and economic threat this awful invader poses to our Country. Stephen and I also managed to get to Backridge farm to check the progress of the trees our volunteers planted 6 weeks or so ago, we were delighted by the results, and the highlight was the discovery of a duck nest with 10 eggs, and a oyster catcher nest with 3 eggs within the habitat fencing. It just goes to show how wide the benefits of our work can be!! And finally (yes there is more!) our Spawning Channel for Ings Beck was completed on Friday afternoon, the work has been absolutely brilliant, and we hope to find it’s utilised this winter to the same levels as the Dunsop channels!
May 11, 2009
Well the last short week for me for quite sometime I suspect! The bank holiday Monday gave me a Chance to do a training walk for my 100k challenge. I walked 23 miles in 5 hours 47, and got plenty of Sun burn!
May 11, 2009
Well as the title of this post suggests these were the Hot topics for last week! But first on a non-trust note – I have to admit to being tired and aching this morning as I did a training walk for an upcoming sponsored walk. Not another sponsored walk I hear you say, well this is a little more extreme than most! I have done this event once before along the South Downs, but this year there is one in Yorkshire. It’s 100km (that 62.5 miles to most of us), which is to be completed in under 24 hours, we are aiming for sub 20 hours! This is a non-stop walk which starts at 8 in the morning and we walk all day and most of the night to finish. It is quite simply the physically hardest thing I have ever done, and I am not sure why I’m doing it again! Yesterday was a nice short 21 miles walk from my house to the back of Pendle, up Pendle, down Pendle and up to the Nick of Pendle, over to Wisewell then back home. All in 5 hours 47 mins!! So I know everyone is asking you for money at the moment, but if you feel like supporting me, it would be much appreciated, any amount small or large penny’s or pounds would be much appreciated. You can send it to the office here, or fill in a form on line at http://www.justgiving.com/ontdales09, all funds are going to Oxfam. I am currently planning to do something similar for the Trust next year which would be the Ribble Way in 24 hours, so this is good training!
Right request for money over onto business! Monday I went out with Jason Pusley from the EA pollution team to undertake some more kick samples. We unfortunately found the worst Invertebrate result to date, which means serious pollution in this location. The EA will now be following this up. In the Afternoon, I headed off to do another targeted Kick Sample on Boyces Brook at Ribchester, we did find a problem, and as per usual all data has been passed to the EA who have in fact already followed it up!
Tuesday we spent part of the day searching for a suitable location for another off stream spawning channel on the Dunsop, we found a really good spot on the Brennand which we hope we may be able to create in the near future. This will really benefit from the new and soon to be introduced hands off flow on the Brennand and Whitendale. This is something our Trustees and several others fought very very hard for and achieved a fantastic result – it will certainly put many many more fish in our Rivers.
Wednesday we met with the leader on the Signal Crayfish “problem” from the EA. We met on site in the morning to look at our proposal and discuss methodology timings and amendments. It was very positive, and I certainly learnt a few things I didn’t know. But most importantly it looks like the proposal for this trial will now go ahead (subject to certain consents). If this works we maybe able to eliminate the Signal Crayfish Threat.
Last year I spoke to many anglers (whilst fishing myself) on the Hodder. One thing that kept cropping up was the numbers of Rainbows being caught. What was alarming was the size of some of them. One angler reported catching 10 in a day and on other days had caught double figure rainbows and Browns. This is another Pressure the Hodder does not need. For those of you who are wondering what the issues are:
1) Direct Predation – The rainbows will be voracious feeders eating fry and Parr
2) Competition – The bigger escapees will take up the best lies giving them the best cover from predation and also feeding
3) Indirect Predation – As part of the above competition our wild fish, will be more exposed to cormorants, minks, herons, and many other predators further denting the population. Also the Higher numbers of fish in the river will attract more predators further increasing this problem.
4) Behaviour at Spawning – There is some suggestion that the escapees during the spawning season will show increased levels of aggression leading to salmon and trout being pushed off there reads and spawning interrupted, this is quite a serious issue.
All of the above are not 100% concrete, and there has been some evidence to show that point 4) may not be the case, however some of them go without saying.
So this is a serious issue, we set up a meeting with the EA and the Owner of Stocks Fishery (Ben) on Thursday to go through our options. Ben gave us a great deal of background that was very informative and helped to formulate a way forward. We had been looking at the feasibility of an electronic fish screen on the Spillway to deter fish from go over. However Ben had evidence from previous work that only non-triploid fish (i.e. diploids) were going over the spillway in an attempt to spawn. He had believed he had tackled this problem by insisting on stocking with only triploids (a certificate can be provided by suppliers), unfortunately last year was a bad year for the production of triploids (accross the board) which meant a high percentage of supposed triploids were diploids. Combined with the high flows this maybe what caused the numerous catches in the Hodder last year (in fact I landed a 4.5lb Rainbow whilst fishing near Knowlmere). We managed to trash out a way forward, and Ben will now only stock with triploids, insisting on a certificate as proof which will be passed onto the EA, he also said he would not stock Blue Trout (they cannot be triploided. We will also look at installing a trap at the bottom of the Spillway to determine if this solves the problem. This is a very positive outcome, and thank Ben for his help with this problem if we can work with all our partners in this way we will resolve many more problems!
May 11, 2009
The week was shortened again for me as I took two days off to move house. This should reduce my Carbon foot print. I have moved from Brockhall Village into Clitheroe, reducing significantly the amount of CO2 I produce from my vehicle. This will be further reduced as being so close to the office I plan to cycle in (this should also help to lose a few of those extra pounds I carry!). I’m sure you are all sick to death of Climate change, and it seems to be non-stop in the media (well less so with the Credit crunch), however it does pose various significant impacts to Rivers and Fisheries. The predicted less rainfall, warmer temperatures and extreme weather events will really hurt our rivers and stream. So I like too think if we all do a little – it can reduce these impacts. The trust now takes into account Climate Change in it’s schemes, “carbon off setting” from our tree planting, but also targeted tree planting, making sure we offer suitable shade to help stabilise water temperatures. Before I bore you with any more talk of Climate change I’ll stop!
Monday last week was the usual, check in with Philip and sorting correspondence. One interesting bit of correspondence was with Richard Cove, who is the Scientific Officer for the Grayling Society. There has been much talk recently about poor grayling catches this winter gone, so he and I have been discussing what can be done. One thing that is really important is that grayling anglers help by filling in a grayling “log book”, it’s essentially a catch return that helps us to find out where and what the problems are. I will put more details of this on our website shortly.
We also paid a visit to Mearly Brook and Primrose lodge after more reports of problems. Nothing out of the ordinary was obvious. Primrose lodge did look very low, considering the rain that had been had the week before. Mearly does has the odd salmon and sea trout enter for spawning, and if we can improve the water quality this could be significantly increased.
Tuesday we contacted some contractors about a fish rescue we had been helping with. This will help to protect the fish, but also to generate income for the trust. Unfortunately no real news, but it is still early.
We also have no made a decision to move forward with the Website. We would like to thank Webfettlers for all there hard work and excellent service to date. We would highly recommend them to anybody looking for a website for a small to medium business in the Ribble Valley. We have now expanded the requirement and content for our website and so have had to work with a larger organisation. We hope the new site will be up and running by next week. My Blog will be hosted there, from then on, but I will put links from here to it. We will also have gallery’s of photos and videos, invertebrate survey information, fisheries survey info, a forum, details for projects and information for all river’s users. This is a large step forward for the trust and we hope it will help to attract new members as people are able to see more of what we do and how it benefits all parties who use the river, from anglers to photographers!
Tuesday we also managed to get round the Trout in the Town schools. All are doing very well, with swim up fry in all tanks. They have now bought automatic feeders to cover the Easter holiday, and we hope for a release day in mid May. The highlight of the day was the two headed, YES TWO HEADED, fry at Pendle Junior School! The fry was unable to survive and was removed.
On Wednesday we visited the location of the closed footpath at Brungerly park. There are plans to remove significant numbers of trees here to protect the footpath. We can see the problem, however fear that the removal of trees will impact fish populations, but in the long term increase erosion that will threaten the footpath once more. In the afternoon we did a site visit to check the location for a re-introduction of trout. It is an isolated beck, that can not be accessed by trout from down stream, whose population of trout has been previously wiped out. We will be collecting fry from lower down on the sub-catchment (where there is sufficient fry to do so), and moving them above the barrier to migration. The water quality was excellent, and habitat more than suitable. When the day comes I will be asking for volunteers to help with this, so watch out for the email!
I sent out my first trust member email last week, and I hope that if you are a member and did not receive it that you will email me your details soon so that I can include you in the next one.
This will be a busy week, plenty of meetings about: Signal Crayfish, escapee rainbows, pollution to name just a few!