Tag Archives: river

February 2015 Riversearch

My December Riversearch was uneventful, with little to report. And not much has changed since then. No news is perhaps a good thing – there weren’t any obvious signs of pollution or invasive species (although invasive plants mostly won’t be obvious at this time of year, and I didn’t search for signal crayfish or quagga mussels). And while the river level was quite high (the stepping stones were well covered), it wasn’t flooded.

The River Mole in February
The River Mole in February
Can you spot the stepping stones?
Can you spot the stepping stones?

There were some signs of spring, with a few clumps of snowdrops scattered around, and wild garlic leaves appearing. Bird song filled the air, but the trees are still bare.

Signs of spring - snowdrops
Signs of spring – snowdrops
Signs of spring - catkins
Signs of spring – catkins
Signs of spring - wild garlic leaves
Signs of spring – wild garlic leaves

Given there was so little to report, it’s a bit hard to motivate myself to get round to returning the data. But, even this unexciting result is important to monitoring the health of the River Mole. So I really should send the results back in. And I will. Sometime. Maybe next weekend.

Riversearch has been going for around 18 months now, and they’ve refined the forms we use, to make the paperwork quicker and easier once you’ve done the initial search. (The basic info about a stretch of river doesn’t change that much from month to month – bridges tend not to be too temporary, and land use change is not that rapid).

One of the new things they ask for now is information about the wildlife we see along the way. Now, this is much more to my taste (and skills) than describing the geography of the rivers – rills, bars etc. So, I was pleased to come across some deer prints in the wood by the river. The prints were very small (perhaps muntjac or a small female of a larger type of deer). So, while I don’t have anything exciting to report about the river, at least I can submit the deer print photos, to be added to the county database.

Deer (muntjac?) print
Deer (muntjac?) print
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December Riversearch: nothing to see here

In all the excitement of Christmas, I haven’t had a chance yet to tell you about my latest Riversearch. For those of you who are new to this blog, Riversearch is a scheme run by Surrey Wildlife Trust, where voluntary River Wardens regularly survey their stretch of river. We look out for (and report) pollution, non-native invasive species, and more positively, signs of river wildlife like otters and water voles.

I did my most recent survey just before Christmas. It was quite a contrast to the same stretch a year ago. On Christmas Eve 2013 the River Mole flooded, hitting the national news. When I surveyed it in early January (once the water levels had receded enough to get near it), the meadows along it were like lakes.

Christmas 2014 was different. In fact, the remarkable thing was there was nothing remarkable to see, for the first time. No storm-felled trees. No burst banks. No dumped rubbish. No invasive species. No kingfishers. No deer prints. No people paddling. No intriguing cache of fruit. Nothing. Just the river at a normal level, doing what rivers do best.

Still, even this rather dull data is useful, I’m assured.