The village of Watlington is located along the spring line at the foot of the Chilterns scarp in Oxfordshire. The Chalgrove Brook which rises here is thus essentially a chalkstream for its first few miles, with clean water and relatively constant flow and temperature. These attributes mean that the Chalgrove brook is believed to be the only tributary of the Thame that supports a population of wild trout.
In 2013 Watlington Environment Group began its Watercourses Project, aiming to understand, raise awareness of, and protect the watercourses of the parish. Ongoing activities include: research into the historic use of the brook, and how its modern much-culverted course has evolved; riverfly and chemical water quality monitoring; regular recording of rainfall and brook, pond and well levels, in order to better understand the interrelationships; seeking to ensure the watercourses are protected and enhanced in planning decisions.
Then in 2015, supported by the River Thame Conservation Trust, the Environment Agency, and the Wild Trout Trust, they embarked on a programme of habitat enhancement work to improve conditions for trout, including provision of additional suitable spawning habitat. An example of the work, soon after completion, is illustrated below; more is planned.
They have also established dialogue with villages downstream to coordinate and encourage similar work, and built good relationships with Thames Water and other statutory bodies.
If you would like to assist with Watlington Environment Group’s practical conservation work or any of their other activities, or simply want to know more, please contact Coordinator Mike Chadwick firstname.lastname@example.org .
For information about Watlington Environment Group’s wider programme of talks, walks and visits, see www.watlington-environment-group.org.uk . ”