Habitat to Help Trout and Native Crayfish in a Midlands Brook

I was recently able to use the Trout in the Town project to provide two days of training in habitat work for the Friends of Bilbrook (find them on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/Bilbrookfriends/ ).


We used some very simple techniques of woody material introduction and stabilisation to help create submerged "cover" habitat for fish (and hopefully the native crayfish that have been recorded in the brook). Some simple tweaks to those techniques also helped to promote more diverse depth over the cross-section of the brook at selected points.

At the same time as creating localised bedscour - the installed material also encourage patches of sediment deposition. The combination of those actions produce a pattern of separation between areas of fine silt and coarser bed material in a patchwork fashion. In this way, a greater variety of micro-habitats are created and this creates many more opportunities for aquatic species. At the same time, it also creates the variety needed for different critical life-cycle stages within individual species such as trout.

Because the materials for the woody material introduction and stabilisation were won by selecting a small number of trees in the river corridor, this also contributed to creating a more varied dappled light and shade regime. In turn this will promote greater opportunities for more varied understory vegetation to develop.

Those opportunities for understory species have only been provided by the excellent works of the Friends of Bilbrook to gain control over the invasive Himalayan Balsam - a big high 5 for that work is well deserved.

Also - huge thanks to Richard Schneider at Groundwork West Midlands who has done masses of work to arrange permissions, co-ordinate volunteers and contractors as well as getting materials and kit on site.

Great effort all round - and thank you for having me :)

Paul