- The Dreams and Realities of Large Carnivore Reintroductions in the UK: this post by Rewilding the UK explores the possibilities of reintroducing a large carnivore into the UK, and concludes that lynx are the most likely large predator to be able to live sustainably in the UK, without too much conflict with people. I love the idea of lynx returning to the wild here…
- 10 Years on, How Effective has the Hunting Act Been? More than just badgers explores the effectiveness of the Hunting Act, and suggests ways in which the legislation could be improved to reduce loopholes and protect our wildlife from cruelty. This is a timely piece, given the public commitment from some Tories to repeal the Act if they get elected.
- Wildlife Aid releases ‘Saving Harry’: the Wildlife Aid Foundation have released a beautiful animation and song to draw attention to the plight of hedgehogs in the UK. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0XKKpVUgTM
- Somerset Levels Update: Reflections on Flooding: A New Nature Blog summarises a report by the RSPB into last winter’s horrific flooding on the Somerset Levels, looking into what caused the floods (apart from lots of rain!), and how they could be prevented in the future.
- “This World is Not My Home” and Other T-shirts I Can’t Wear Anymore: Such Small Hands reflects on Christians’ relationship with the world, and the view that what happens in the world doesn’t really matter, as our home is in heaven. She disputes this view, concluding powerfully: “I believe we have a responsibility to work for justice and restoration in the world precisely because this world IS our home and because the Creator has given it value.” I find this post really thought-provoking, as sometimes I fall into the trap of feeling that my love for nature is trivial or ‘worldly’. This is a useful reminder for Christians that we have a responsibility for what goes on here and now.
If you live in the UK you’ll have noticed the storms over the last few weeks. The humble River Mole even made it onto the national news on Christmas eve as homes and businesses were flooded, and people left without power for days. The flooding is not just a human tragedy. Heavy rains, winds and floods increase pollution, and rising water levels can be fatal for riverside dwellers. That’s why, on the 5th January, in the rain, I donned my wellies and high vis jacket, and headed out along the river.
I’m one of Surrey Wildlife Trust’s volunteer river wardens, as part of RiverSearch. The scheme is a great idea – volunteers are allocated a stretch of river, and regularly monitor it for pollution, non-native invasive species and species like otters.
I’m ashamed to admit that since I did my training last autumn, I’d yet to do my first real survey. So when the email came from the coordinator, urging us to get out along rivers looking for pollution and flooding, I knew I had to act. I wouldn’t normally choose a rainy January afternoon for a stroll, nor a route along a river that has recently flooded. But those conditions do provide an excellent opportunity to spot where rivers are getting polluted from run-off from farmland or roads, and other sources of pollution.
So off I set, armed with a camera, clipboard, gps and intrepid stick, and kindly accompanied by Dr C. In all, we covered just under 5 miles, although not all of that was along the river. Along Pipp Brook there were lots of places where urban run-off was entering the stream. The water level in the mill stream had fallen a couple of feet from the previous afternoon, but it was still much higher than normal. There were also lots of plastic bags and other debris stranded on overhanging branches, washed there by the high water or blown by the wind.
The water was a murky brown from the washed-in mud, and visibility in the river must be close to zero. I felt sorry for the kingfisher I glimpsed zooming past, as hunting must be difficult in these conditions. Water voles can also be badly affected by flooding, as their bankside burrows can get flooded with the rising water. The additional nutrients washed into rivers are bad news for fish (and those creatures that depend on fish), as it can deplete oxygen levels in the water.
Hopefully the data gathered by the volunteer River Wardens can help to identify ways to reduce pollution and flooding along Surrey’s rivers for the future. And hopefully the weather will improve quickly to give all those (human and animal) who live by rivers and the sea a chance to recover.