We are pleased to welcome you to our Autumn 2019 newsletter! We hope you enjoy reading about what we and our partners have been up to recently. If you have any suggestions for our Winter newsletter then contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
A word from the CEO
We have certainly had a busy summer and autumn so far! Thank you for all your support and particularly, thanks go to those who have made very unexpected, but much appreciated, financial donations to the Trust.
The summer and early autumn period is always busy. In theory, dry weather and low flows allow us to deliver the projects that have been planned and funded during the previous Winter and Spring. This year, our big projects (read all about them in the articles below!) were successful in spite of the weather which started as glorious sunshine and ended in prolonged rain and high water levels!
The autumn is upon us and winter not far away. This is now the time for the important forward planning and budgeting. We are working closely with the Environment Agency, Thames Water and other funders to frame the budgeting and programme for the New Year. We have an unprecedented list of potential projects on the list and a real ambition to work on even more – given the funding!
Lastly, thank you to our many unsung hero volunteers who have turned out to support numerous days of removing the spread of invasive species, to monitor water quality and bird populations across the catchment. This regular background data gathering is really important and allows us to plan and prioritise our future work as well as argue for new site protections and designations – especially in the face of the continuing threats of development!
Waddesdon wetland complex
RTCT has been busy this autumn undertaking phase I of a floodplain restoration project that will transform an area of low diversity floodplain meadow into a large wetland complex designed for specifically for biodiversity. This project is run in partnership with Freshwater Habitats Trust, the Waddesdon Estate and Aylesbury Vale District Council. Thanks also to the local EA officers and EA Biodiversity team in particular for their support throughout the project.
Slideshow of photographs from the works
The meadow is located on the floodplain of the River Thame and consists of c.10 ha of floodplain grassland. The extent and location of the meadow provides an excellent opportunity to create a complex of wetland habitats to benefit freshwater and other wildlife in the area, and to contribute to ecosystem services (e.g. flood prevention and nutrient cycling) and ecosystem resilience.
The wetland complex creation scheme will aim to maximise the diversity of the site for wetland plants, aquatic and semi-aquatic invertebrates and amphibians. A range of waterbodies will be created of varying shape, size and depth. These will all have wide shallow sloping margins, providing a long drawdown zone which is ideal for plants and invertebrates, and have varied topography, with lots of small bumps and dips to maximise the available micro-habitats.
The works are planned to be carried out in two phases over the course of two years. The first phase was carried out this autumn and the second is planned for autumn 2020.
Phase I included the following works:
Project funded by:
Fish passage and river habitat works – near Cuddington
After months of design, planning and preparation and with all permissions and permits in hand we were finally ready to carry out the physical works to improve fish passage and habitat on the River Thame near Cuddington. This is the exciting part of any project and why we do our jobs; to deliver real improvements for the river and its wildlife.
Read on for a detailed summary of the project design and delivery – with lots of photos!
Clean water ponds and great crested newts in Shabbington Woods: a success story
By Dr Pascale Nicolet, Technical Director, Freshwater Habitats Trust
A recent analysis of all the freshwater wildlife data in the River Thame catchment has led to the designation of Shabbington Wood as an Important Freshwater Area. This is a direct result of habitat creation and collaborations between the landowner (Forestry England), Freshwater Habitats Trust and the Newt Conservation Partnership. It shows what can be done to help freshwater wildlife, with relatively little means, just by creating clean water ponds.
Read on to find out more about the exciting results from several years of clean freshwater pond creation……..
RTCT bird surveys are 4 years old – what are they telling us?
December 2015 saw the first of our formal bird surveys carried out along the length of the River Thame and, as we now mark the completion of the 4th year, it is great to be able to thank our dedicated team of volunteers and celebrate the story the data is now starting to tell about the wildlife of the river. Read on for a summary of the past four years and what it means…..
Water in a Dry Landscape project update
Volunteers have been getting stuck into helping with the Water in a Dry Landscape project (WIDL) to monitor the health, and gain a better understanding of, the headwater streams and waterbodies found in the Chiltern hills. Read on for a summary by Allen Beechey from the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project of the WIDL project and what is happening currently …..
Riverfly monitoring – training event
On October 26th four volunteers joined us to be trained in Riverfly monitoring.
Riverfly monitoring is a great way to keep an eye on the health of your local watercourse and can help identify pollution issues.
A good time was had by all and we now have 21 sites actively being surveyed across the Thame catchment every month!
If you are interested in becoming a trained Riverly monitor then contact us at: email@example.com
Dates for your diary
Celebration event and yearly review
We are excited to be able to invite you to our annual celebratory event. Come along and hear what we’ve been up to this past year (it’s been a busy one), celebrate all the wonderful volunteers that have made so much possible and hear an update on the catchment survey network results.
6:30pm on 9th December
Chearsley Village Hall
We will be raising a glass, eating some nibbles and taking a look back over the past year and all that has been achieved by our staff and wonderful volunteers.
We would be delighted to have you with us and hope you can attend
If you are interested in attending please sign up here so we can gauge numbers to cater for!
Watlington Environmental Group – A review and look ahead
Watlington Town Hall on Friday November 29th at 8pm
Watlington Environment Group began a Watercourses Project in 2013, with the aim of better understanding, protecting and enhancing the town’s streams, ponds and springs. Watlington is located at the source of the Chalgrove Brook in South Oxfordshire, which feeds into the Thame at Chiselhampton, and for its first few miles has the characteristics of a chalk stream. Watlington itself has a small population of brown trout, albeit a rather vulnerable one.
Over its six years, the project has gained a good understanding of how the seasonal and year-to-year fluctuations in flow are governed; delivered or facilitated significant habitat enhancements in conjunction with the RTCT, EA and others; sought to reduce the threats to the stream environment from carelessness and abuse; and generally raised awareness of this overlooked precious resource on our doorstep.
A talk in Watlington Town Hall on Friday November 29th at 8pm will summarise the findings and achievements so far – the highs and the lows – and set out some ideas for the future. Some initiatives further downstream will also be mentioned, and the talk may just provide ideas and inspiration for other communities across the catchment to begin their own projects.