RTCT August 2017 Newsletter

Welcome to our tenth 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 Enquiries@riverthame.org

It appears my wish for rain in the last newsletter came true, sorry everyone!

The days are becoming shorter and there sure has been a chill in the air in the mornings more recently, autumn is on its way! Newts are leaving their breeding ponds and starting to find somewhere to cosy up ready for winter. The numbers of butterflies and dragonflies are beginning to reduce, so make the most of them this month before the days get too cold and you miss them for another year.


Electro fishing on The River Thame in Nether Winchendon August 2017

What makes the trust tick?

In the second of a series that looks at how the trust works behind the scenes we are looking at our very knowledgeable and hardworking trustees. Ben Piper and Nick Marriner have both written a short piece about what being a trustee means to them and how they became involved in the trust.

Ben Piper

Although I have lived in Oxford for over 40 years the River Thame was until recently only of passing interest.  When driving to the east of Oxford occasionally took me over a flooded River Thame; at that time this was to me as a hydrologist only of passing interest.

That superficial interest changed some two years ago, when I heard that the Trust was looking for nominations for Trustees.  After attending Trustee meetings as an observer, I was invited to become a Trustee.  I had realised that my experience as a professional hydrologist might be useful to the Trust, but more importantly was my recognition that the Trust was looking to work at the local level to implement integrated catchment management.  This offered a practical opportunity for me to help the work of the Trust and its partners to identify and implement small projects that could really be shown to make a difference.

From the initial small steps of formalising the Trust’s objectives it is very satisfying to see the Trust’s staff build on that through the development of the website, the volunteer programmes, and the wider-community engagement.  And of course delivery of what up to now has been a limited portfolio of short-duration and small projects.

Looking to the future, I am looking forward to helping the Trust plan for and deliver larger and longer-term projects.  This will involve more collaborative working with stakeholders.

Nick Marriner

My involvement with the Trust began in 2014 responding to a request for Water Quality surveyors on sites close to home in Thame. This soon led to a Riverfly training course and 3 years later I have monthly records tracking water quality on a site in Towersey on the Kingsey Cuttlebrook.

Professionally I have had experience of supporting the development of local voluntary organisations and so when the chance to become a Trustee arose in 2015 I jumped at the chance to contribute behind the scenes.

As the Trust seeks to widen its understanding of the wildlife in the catchment I offered to work with the BTO to set up two bird surveying projects (a river based Wetland Bird Survey and catchment wide Atlas survey). With over 60 volunteers recruited and over 10,000 records generated we are developing a clear map of our most important wetland habitats.

I have been fortunate to work with some incredibly supportive landowners in Waterstock recording a wide range of wildlife from birds to mammals to amphibians. The area is a jewel in the Thame’s crown and I am currently working on an application to designate Watertstock a Local Wildlife Site.

The Trust is incredibly forward thinking and supporting it is infectious. I have been fortunate to be able to support its work in such a wide range of areas. If you are reading this and feel you can make a difference to your local patch, please get in touch – the River has so much to offer!

Your Fisheries

‘Your Fisheries’ – River Thame Questionnaire

We have recently conducted a questionnaire seeking peoples’ views about the status of fish populations and fishing opportunity in the Thame catchment. We are using the answers and information collected through the questionnaire to help inform us in putting together a fisheries action plan for the River Thame.

The questionnaire is one way in which we are gathering information as part of the ‘Your Fisheries’ initiative. ‘Your Fisheries’ has been developed by The Rivers Trust, the Environment Agency and Angling Trust. It is a web-based application that brings together evidence and knowledge from a range of different sources to help produce fisheries action plans. These plans are intended to represent a multi-partner perspective on the current status of fish populations and fishing opportunity in the catchment, the key factors affecting them and the actions required to maintain and/or deliver improvements.

Via the questionnaire we asked respondents to provide information and views on the following topics:

  1. The current status of fish populations
  2. Key factors affecting fish populations
  3. Actions to maintain or improve fish populations
  4. Monitoring
  5. Fishing Opportunity and fishing access


Overall the majority of respondents considered that fish populations on the River Thame were either poor or fair and that water quality was the main key factor effecting fish populations. A number of actions to maintain or improve fish populations were mentioned with habitat improvement, improving water quality and looking to control signal crayfish as the most popular responses.

Fishing opportunity and fishing access in the Thame catchment was considered as either poor or fair with a general consensus the more should be done to provide car parking and improve bankside access.

For the full questionnaire report please click here

The responses collated through the questionnaire will now be used to help put together a fisheries action plan for the River Thame. This action plan will take into account views expressed along with other information gathered will be used to provide a weight of evidence approach in developing a workable, realistic plan that will endeavour to deliver improvements to improve fish populations and fishing opportunity.

For further information please contact Tom Sherwood (tom@theriverstrust.org)

Connect Right

1 in 5 homes in the UK are misconnected. This means that your foul waste could be running straight into our river or alternatively surface water drainage could be running into the foul sewer. This can cause excess water running into sewage treatment works and at times of storm this can make it harder for sewage to be treated.

To find out more and to check that your home is connected right follow this link

Your River Needs You!

An alarming 80% of rivers across England and Wales are failing health standards. Many rivers are also at risk from over extraction.
Currently the EU protect our watercourses through legislation known as the Water Framework Directive. We need to ensure that this framework is not weakened through the process of leaving the EU. Show our government you care about our rivers by writing to your MP. Follow this link to show your support through WWFs Nature Needs you Campaign.

Stream enhancement work parties
A great chance to get out on the Chalgrove Brook in Stadhampton and do some real river enhancement. This series of work parties aims to improve the brook for plants and wildlife.

Tuesday 26th September 10.30am – 2pm
Scrub bashing to open up the brook to allow light in to enable aquatic plants to grow.

Tuesday 3rd October 10am – 3pm
Creating brushwood berms and flow deflectors to increase habitat diversity through diversifying the flow of water.

No experience necessary just willingness to get involved. Warm clothes are recommended. All equipment will be provided and there will be plenty of biscuits to keep us going!

For more information and/ or to get involved email Enquiries@RiverThame.org



Wetland Bird surveying course

Saturday 21st October 9.30am – 1pm

The course is designed to help with the identification of our common winter wetland birds. The workshop will take place at Otmoor RSPB reserve which is a jewel in the crown of local birding sites and carries a range of habitats so we should be able to cover the identification of a wide range of wetland birds.
The course is targeted at both existing volunteer surveyors who want to improve their identification and surveying skills as well as new volunteers who are looking to get involved with bird surveying either for the River Thame Conservation Trust or other local organisations.
We will spend some time indoors looking at survey methods before heading out onto the Reserve to see what we can find where experienced birders will be on hand to help with identification. So if you have a basic knowledge of bird identification, want to brush up on your skills and get involved in local surveying this course is for you.

For more information and/ or to get involved email Enquiries@RiverThame.org

Photo: Doug Kennedy