27 November 2011

It was a quiet week up to the weekend and then we had the first significant rain for some weeks.  This, by the application of Mr Murphy's well known law, coincided with my plans to do the monthly invert check.  This may not now get done as I seem to have managed to damage my left shoulder humping bags of proven and am currently typing one handed with my left arm in a sling.  Great!

The rather better news comes via the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust who are planning to submit an application for a substantial (over

27 November 2011

It was a quiet week up to the weekend and then we had the first significant rain for some weeks.  This, by the application of Mr Murphy's well known law, coincided with my plans to do the monthly invert check.  This may not now get done as I seem to have managed to damage my left shoulder humping bags of proven and am currently typing one handed with my left arm in a sling.  Great!

The rather better news comes via the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust who are planning to submit an application for a substantial (over

20 November 2011

I spent yesterday at the Malham Tarn Research Seminar.  This event is run every two years and brings together academics and amateur naturalists who are engaged in research projects loosely connected with the Tarn and its surrounding environment. 

We were treated to a series of well presented sessions that fired many thoughts about how our fishery is managed from an environmental and ecological perspective.  Much was learnt about the importance of reducing nutrient enrichment of shallow still water bodies and I had a very productive conversation over an excellent dinner with the UK's leading authority on shallow lakes.  This is likely to lead to some valuable research next year, not only on our Tarn, but also on the current state of the brown trout population of the upper Ribble.

One of the thoughts that's now exercising my small brain is what kind of environment are we trying to create when we carry out river corridor improvement works.  The fundamental questions must always be – why are we doing this and what are the anticipated long term consequences.  One of the things we learn yesterday is that the ecology of this landscape has changed significantly over past millennia and we need to have a clear vision of the sort of landscape we are creating as well as how the work will benefit riverine wildlife.  We can prevent grazing by livestock by fencing and just wait and see what grows or we can intervene to create something more quickly.  Intervention inevitably results in a man-made landscape. We need to ensure that this is as natural to its location as we can make it.  The trouble is we don't always know what “natural” should consist of or look like.

On a lighter note.  I was looking at the Tarn webcam last week when I spotted a large number of white objects floating on the water.  A quick visit revealed these to be ten whooper swans making a stop over.  I managed to get a few pictures that I will post up here later today.

Ian

15 November 2011

This is a little late due to preparing for a marathon Parish Council meeting which took place last night and which banished all thoughts of the river, Tarn and MAA.

Just finished writing up the minutes and thought I would relax by reflecting on a very constructive MAA Council meeting on Saturday.  This was just as long as last nights effort, but rather more enjoyable.  Council agreed a Tarn stocking plan for next year that will see double he number of brown trout introduced at the start of the season.  It was also agreed to investigate whether it would be possible to do anything to encourage brown trout to breed in the outflow from the Tarn.  There is some evidence that a few fish are already managing to spawn beyond the duck wall so it may be possible to find a way to encourage more to do so.

There is much work currently being done by RCCT to improve habitat on the upper river with fencing work going on at Cam beck and plans for grip blocking above Gayle beck.  Some instream habitat improvement work is also being planned for the new year and further fencing will be done on Gayle beck below Thornes Gill.  This set us thinking about how we could complement the work of RCCT and it was concluded that a trust be set up to channel further money into works that will encourage an increase in trout recruitment on the fishery.  This trust will complement and partner with RCCT and help to take some of the stress off those who are presently making sterling efforts to tackle the problems of the Ribble from its source to the sea.

We are also to investigate the possibility of installing a river height meter at Horton linked to the members web site so that conditions can be understood before you make the long journey up to Horton.

The swans seem well settled on the Tarn now and I'm convinced that the two adults are our two old friends who disappeared last winter.

It's a glorious autumn day here with not a cloud in the sky and a sharp nip in the air.  The river is crystal clear revealing a couple of large brownies who have been feeding on late fly hatch by the big rock opposite the Crown.  They must know that the season has ended and feel no fear.

More next week

Ian

6 November 2011

Its not been a bad week weather-wise and today we have wall to wall sunshine with barely a cloud visible in the valley or on the fell tops.

I set off yesterday to drive over to Clapham and part way down the lane came across a small flock of birds that I took to be young pheasant.  They panicked and flew over the wall towards the river so I had little more than a fleeting glimpse not wishing to follow them through the wall in the vehicle.

On my way up to the Tarn first thing this morning I once again came across this flock marching up the road.  Slowing to a crawl I herded them for some 2 hundred yards before they lost interest in the game and flew over the wall towards Fawber barn.  This time I got a rather better look at them and I'm puzzled as to what they are.  They are mid brown, about the size of a pheasant poult, have red legs and a white mark behind each eye.  They fly well keeping close to the ground and seem very keen to stay close to each other. 

A further surprise awaited at the Tarn.  For a few days now I have been watching on the webcam what I took to be a trio of Whooper swans on the Tarn.  Approaching the water this morning it was immediately obvious that these are mute swans, a male and female and a large cygnet.  As I walked out on the boardwalk all three came charging across towards me with the pen making grunting noises which is about as much as a mute can manage.  The adults are clearly older birds judging by the wear along the beak edge and their size.  I'm wondering if these two are our original residents who for some reason have bred away from the Tarn this summer.  They seem very relaxed and very much at home.  Far more than the pair that were resident this summer.

We have a club Council meeting here at Horton next Saturday to plan for next season so more on this next Sunday and I will update the website with any news.

Ian