Welcome to our ninth RTCT newsletter. We always love to update people on what is happening around the catchment, and what better way to fill people in than with a monthly newsletter. We hope that you enjoy reading and welcome any suggestions for next month, just send them and any photographs to Natalie@riverthame.org
The latter part of this month hasn’t felt like summer at all with what seems like constant rain. For many of us this isn’t what we want to see, but after the driest 6 months EVER it’s something our countryside and in particular our freshwater habitats urgently needed. English Nature estimate that currently almost 40,000 hectares of our best sites for wildlife are affected by drainage, and another 3,000 by water abstraction. Droughts heighten the effects of these activities, making it difficult for already vulnerable wildlife to survive. And although droughts are a natural phenomenon, they are now set to become much more severe and frequent, because of man made climate change.
So I say bring on the rain!
What makes the trust tick?
In the first of a series that looks at how the trust works behind the scenes we are looking at our volunteers and the invaluable work they do. We now have over 140 committed and passionate volunteers who undertake water quality, species and riverfly surveys as well as volunteers that help us with day to day office tasks. Without all your help we really couldn’t be where we are today, so thank you!
Roger and Ann Bettess have been volunteering for the trust for around 3 years now and their passion and dedication to their regular water quality and riverfly surveys really is fantastic. Roger wrote a short paragraph explaining how he became a RTCT volunteer.
I first contacted the River Thame Conservation Trust for advice about creating ponds in the Wheatley area. A member of the trust came for a site visit and was very helpful but when he left I realised that I had volunteered to take monthly nitrate and phosphate readings at three locations around Wheatley. Once I was in contact with the RTCT I heard about a Riverfly Monitoring Course. For a while I had been concerned about the water quality of watercourses around Wheatley and had been interested in using biological monitoring to assess it. A free course on riverfly monitoring seemed to be too good an opportunity to miss. The course brought back my wife’s childhood memories of pond dipping looking for little animals so she came along as well. We now share the effort of carrying out the riverfly monitoring. My working life was mainly to do with rivers and I am aware of the usefulness of long-term data records. In the present economic climate it is only by using volunteers that such data can be collected and passed on to future generations.
Your water your future
Thames Water have a campaign called Your Water Your Future which allows customers to have their say on how they operate. Although water companies can have positive influences on our water courses through community engagement, habitat improvement and creation and funding organisations such as ourselves, we also know mistakes made can cause devastating effects too. Click here tell them what is important to you and help shape their future plans.
Important Freshwater Areas
We currently have a project in collaboration with Freshwater Habitats Trust and funded by The Patsy Wood Trust and Thames Water to find the most important freshwater areas in our catchment. Identifying these areas will help us to focus our time and resources to protect these areas, expand them and connect them together. To help us identify these areas we are not only using national data sets but also data collected by our volunteers on water quality, species data and in particular our extensive data on birds throughout the catchment. So thank you to all those who have given up their time to collect this all important data for us.
Photo credit: Doug Kennedy
Himalayan Balsam bashing with Matrix Explorer Scouts
The Matrix Explorer scouts were out in force to attack the invasive Himalayan Balsam this month in Aylesbury. Thanks for all of your hard work!
On Saturday 26th July Doug Kennedy, one of the trusts key supporters and volunteers and brilliant photographer ran our first wildlife and landscape photography workshop. We had a good turnout and all enjoyed themselves (the brownies made by Waterstock dressage and riding school made the day even better) and despite the rain everyone was in good spirits.
We would love to see your shots from around the Thame Catchment. Please send them to Natalie@riverthame.org
You can also view Doug’s lovely photos in and out of the River Thame catchment on his website here.
Dogs and our river
Dogs are a regular visitor to the River Thame but when off the lead can disturb breeding birds and wildlife but can also damage river banks. When dogs consistently enter rivers at regular points along a river bank they can cause erosion and sediment input. Excess sediment entering watercourses can cause the smothering of fish eggs and invertebrates.
In autumn along the Thame in Aylesbury we have plans to stabilise some of these access points to reduce further damage and erosion occurring to the river bank. We appreciate that dogs like to splash around and cool off in the river on hot days so we have also planned to create formal access points where dogs can enter the river safely and have fun but also have a reduced impact on the river bank.
If you fancy getting stuck in and helping us stabilise the river banks we will be holding volunteer days doing this in autumn so keep your eyes peeled or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.