As springtime arrives, we hope to see increasing wildlife along the River Thame, especially as the river continues its recovery from the 2013 pollution. Over the past year, I have seen kingfishers, banded demoiselles, various types of duck, Canada and Greylag geese, a grebe, swans, lapwings and woodcock in the stretch between Eythrope and Notley. I have seen very few fish – some small fry once under a bridge – but I understand that the river has been restocked, and the anglers tell me that the fish are there. Jon Baines has also seen otter spraint (poo) and others say that there is one or more otters in the same stretch of river.
Yesterday I was on the river at Chearsley and saw the first Banded Demoiselles of the year: there were lots last year, a little earlier, but it’s been quite a cool spring. There were only a couple of fe.males and one male. I haven’t seen any damselflies in the usual spots yet on ponds and channels close the main river, but hope to see azure, blue, emerald and red damselflies as well as darter dragonflies as the summer comes on.
One pond at Chearsley looks surprisingly quiet, and the landowner suspects that a ditch that runs into it may be polluted with agricultural run-off, so I’ll test the water for nitrates and phosphates next time I go there.
We have started work on a new River Thame website that will cover the entire river catchment and will keep anyone interested informed about what is going on: the state of the river, testing results, wildlife, projects and activities. We also Tweet from @Riverthame1.
I was in Yorkshire recently, taking photographs for a book coming out next year, and saw streams of a similar size to the Thame that are less muddy with less reed growth and a lot of fish. Of course these were in far more remote locations without the pressure of a high population and intensive agriculture, but we could improve our river and its environment if we actually care about it. Getting a better balance with financial gain will be challenging, but that is what Save The River Thame and the River Thame Conservation Trust are about.