RTCT September 2017 Newsletter

Welcome to our eleventh 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

What makes the trust tick?

In the third and final series of articles that look at how the trust works behind the scenes we are focusing on those amazing landowners that make our work possible. Henry Manisty and Charles Peers have both written a short piece about their experience with RTCT as landowners.

“Small but perfectly formed” an appreciation of RTCT by a grateful River Thame landowner.

Waterstock Mill is a rather crazy place to live, situated on a tiny island on the River Thame with extensive floodplain to the north that stretches almost as far as Waterperry Gardens. What in summer is around 10 acres of meadows and woodland can in winter become around 8 acres of water and just two of land. At these times, we feel we are living on a boat as there has been a mill here since at least Norman times, and perhaps before.

This craziness makes it a magnet for wildlife and therefore of keen interest to their champions at the RTCT.  Between them, the small team of Louise Bowe, Natalie Breden, and Nick Marriner, in association with a network of enthusiastic volunteers, have been energetically surveying birds, fish, plants, and riverflies; presenting their findings, including many exciting discoveries, in well-attended evenings for villagers, and devising projects to improve the habitat.

They are rapidly correcting the widespread perception that the River Thame is a bit boring. Thanks to their discoveries, the lands on and around Waterstock Mill are now under active consideration for being granted Local Wildlife Status.

Charles Peers – farmer and RTCT Trustee

As a land owning farmer since the early 1960’s on the banks of the Thame I was delighted to learn of the forming of the “River Thame Conservation Trust” an organisation that by its very name suggested that it was to care for its condition, after years of neglect with its maintenance being passed from one authority to another. In this day of overpopulation the pressure on our rivers has to be of concern, so an organisation like this is vital to preserve the natural world.

When first approached by the trust to be involved in certain initiatives I was impressed by the Trusts wish to demonstrate what measures could be taken to alleviate certain pollution problems that could be arising from all angles such as industry sewage & agriculture. It has given me great confidence that here was an organisation that was prepared to alter perception by positive actions, as all initiatives are closely monitored. Initially the actions we have taken here, in spite of my skepticism seem to be working.

It has impressed me greatly to see the number of surveys undertaken by the trust to demonstrate the health of the river, and demonstrate what if anything can be done to better its health. Seeing how the trust was progressing in many of these actions and the wealth of volunteers that have been recruited demonstrated to me how the public was also becoming aware of possible problems. I was delighted when approached to become a member of the Trust, and hope I shall be able to contribute with some practical knowledge.

Scrub bashing at Stadhampton

 

Volunteers worked hard this September cutting back trees and vegetation to open up the Chalgrove Brook at Stadhampton.

Although some shade is good in streams and rivers; not only for a diversity of habitat but also to mitigate against climate change, the chalgrove Brook at this location was beginning to be swamped. Allowing light in will hopefully encourage more diverse vegetation and therefore more habitat for invertebrates and fish.

 

 

 

Come and get your hands dirty on Tuesday 3rd October

Its not too late to sign up to our work party on Tuesday 3rd October 2017 10am – 3pm in Stadhampton.

We will be wading in the chalgrove Brook installing woody debris berms to increase flow, narrow the channel width as well as creating new habitat for invertebrates.

No previous experience required and all equipment will be provided.

Email Natalie@riverthame.org for further information

A stark reminder of what NOT to put down your drains

This month we heard stories of two ginormous fatbergs found in London sewers, the biggest weighing as much as 11 double decker buses.

The fatbergs were made up of nappies, wet wipes, oils, cotton buds and other sanitary products. Basically anything and everything you shouldn’t put down the drain.

Thames Water spends approximately £1million a month clearing fatbergs and blockages, dealing with 55,000 of them every year. This money could alternatively be put into a host of different things which could help our rivers.

This links back to Thames Waters Bin it don’t Block it campaign which you can read about here

Ponds; a wildlife haven

It’s sometimes forgotten that RTCT doesn’t just focus on the River, but on all the freshwater habitats in the catchment. This includes the streams, springs, ditches, floodplain and ponds.

It is well known that ponds are the richest freshwater habitat in terms of biodiversity. This isn’t any different here in the River Thame Catchment and we are starting to find ponds with some rare species; such as this Narrow Leaved Water Plantain.

 

Cuttlebrook Conservation Volunteers have been hard at work!

The volunteers at the Cuttlebrook Nature Reserve (CNR) in Thame have been very busy this month undertaking a number of tasks to create better habitat for wildlife.

They have created a fish refuge/ backwater off of the main Cuttlebrook to create an area of low flows, which is perfect haven for young fish (see picture below). Increasing the channels ability to hold water in this way will also decrease the chance of flooding.

As the site is a favorite for dog walkers, dog access into the brook can be an issue. It causes an increase in erosion and sediment input the volunteers at  CNR created formal access points to not only protect the brook but to also allow the dogs to enjoy the brook safely.

Lets finish with some fantastic photos taken with trail cameras by volunteers on the River Thame.

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