RTCT March 2018 Newsletter

Welcome to our monthly 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 to Enquiries@RiverThame.org

Spring might finally be on its way! The daffodils are out, I saw my first brimstone butterfly and the amphibians appear to be spawning left right and center!  We would love to see your spring photos from around the Thame catchment, please send them to Enquiries@RiverThame.org

Clean Water Quest

Take part in this citizen science survey and help discover fantastic clean water habitats, great for wildlife, across the River Thame Catchment. Help us to cover 500 sites across the Thame catchment in 31 days!

We currently have volunteers going out to sites on a monthly basis testing Nitrate and Phosphate concentrations in our running water system but we want a wider understanding of water quality in all freshwater habitats in the Thame catchment. We are planning to monitor ponds, ditches, streams and the main river.

The survey

  1. Register your interest – Email Enquiries@riverthame.org
  2. Decide where you are going to test – Choose places of your own, a local brook or maybe a garden pond, or choose from our selection of sites [available soon]
  3. Collect a water sample – Use a clean plastic tub or glass jar to collect a water sample. Make sure to rinse it three times in the water you want to test before collecting your water sample to ensure there is no residual residue.
  4. Test your water sample – Use 1 nitrate and 1 phosphate tube to test you water sample for nutrient pollution. Please follow the instructions on your recording form and watch this short ‘how to’ video.
  5. Submit your results – Send in your findings to contribute to the catchment wide survey.

Water Blitz Opening Events

Join us for an introductory talk. Find out why clean water is so important for wildlife and everything else you need to know, before collecting your kits, and heading out to test your local freshwater habitats. Free parking is available at both venues. Please book.

  • Saturday 28th April (11:00 – 12:30)

Stone Village Hall, 50 Oxford Rd, Stone, Aylesbury, HP17 8PB.

  • Monday 30th April (19:30 – 21:00)

Stadhampton Village Hall, The Green, Stadhampton, Oxford, OX44 7UW


For those volunteers already out monitoring water quality on a monthly basis your data will automatically be included in Clean Water Quest. But if you would like to sign up to extra sites then site allocation will begin mid April.

Have you’ve seen something a bit “fishy” in the river?

At certain times of year foam in rivers and still waters is more common. This can be a natural event with no negative environmental implications; alternatively this can be a sign of pollution. The Environment Agency have put together an information sheet which helps explain how to tell the difference and when and how the Environment Agency should be informed. This can be viewed here.


If you think what you have seen is due to pollution then please call the Environment Agency Incident Hotline as soon as possible (the quicker you phone the quicker something can be investigated and hopefully rectified).

The number to call is: 0800 80 70 60 (24 hours).


Dogs love our river too much!

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 May 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 on Wednesday 2nd and Wednesday 9th May. Email Enquiries@RiverThame.org to register your interest.

Invasive species week

It’s InvasivesWeek! Take part in free online biosecurity training this Week (Friday 23rd to Thursday 29th March) for a chance to win a Field Guide to Invasive Plants and Animals in Britain. Find out more.

What are non-native invasive species?
Non-native species are those which have been brought into a place where they do not naturally occur by humans either intentionally or non – intentionally. Many non-native species are not classified as ‘invasive’ as they cause minimal problems to our native wildlife and ecosystems. Those that do cause problems by spreading more aggressively, threatening native wildlife through competition, disease or by preying on them are classified as invasive species.

Why are non-native invasive species a problem?
Invasive aquatic species can have a damaging impact on native plants, animals and ecosystems. In extreme cases this could lead to some species becoming extinct. The impacts of non-native invasive species is now so significant that they are considered to be one of the greatest threats to biodiversity worldwide – even more than pollution or climate change. The financial costs of invasive species is estimated to cost the British economy at least £2 billion a year, not including the irreplaceable cost to native wildlife.

What invasive species do we have in the Thame catchment?
The top 3 non-native invasive species found in the catchment are Himalayan Balsam, American Mink and American Signal Crayfish. Information on other non-native invasive species that have been recorded in the catchment can be found here.

What can you do?
If you use water for recreation including walking, fishing, kayaking etc, you may unknowingly be helping to spread invasive plants and animals from one water body to another. Animals, eggs, larvae and plant fragments are easily transported in or on boats, equipment, shoes and clothing and can survive for a long time. For example, new research from the Environment Agency shows that a killer shrimp can survive in the moist fold of a wader for up to 15 days. You can help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species by following three simple steps: check, clean and dry

You can also help us understand where invasive species are around the catchment by recording your sightings online via Irecord. There are also many apps you can use including; aqua invaders and plant tracker.

We will also be holding our annual Himalayan Balsam removal work parties this summer so why not come along?

Your water your future

Thames Water has launched a public consultation on its draft water resources management plan, asking for customers’ views on how the company plans to provide a secure and sustainable supply of water over the next 80 years.

Have your say on how we use and look after our water! 

There are also local drop in sessions. Find out where your nearest one is here.

Lets End on a high note!

Here’s a picture of a male smooth newt photographed in a pond we created with Freshwater Habitats Trust only back in November! It really does enforce the “when you make it they will come” mentality.