Much of the main watercourse from Watlington to Cuxham flows through a channel that is too wide and shallow to provide good fish habitat, as they need a mix of pools, faster water and cover from predators. Teaming up with staff from the Wild Trout Trust, the Environment Agency and the Thame Catchment Project, WEG volunteers undertook practical training to build new instream structures to diversify habitat.
Since this training, over 50m, of previously featureless, channel below the roundabout on the Cuxham Road was changed to provide: a new pool; a new gravel bed suitable for trout to spawn in; and, narrower faster flowing sections with cover from predators. The latter were created by staking and lashing tightly woven stacks of brush wood from the bank out towards the middle of the channel. The brushwood was cut from surrounding trees to let light into the Brook which should encourage a wider range of plants to colonise the banks and streambed.
This section of Brook will now be monitored to see how fish and other wildlife make use of the new habitat, and the site will be used by WEG and Rover Thame Conservation Trust to show interested landowners how watercourses can be improved. We are looking forward to extending these works in Autumn of 2016 and will report the progress here.