WTT Blog

Easements on Eastburn

Posted on October 06, 2016

Easements on Eastburn

A number of my blog posts have featured Eastburn Beck. It’s my pet project because it is the first that I cut my teeth on after moving to Yorkshire, because I live overlooking its headwaters and hence it is a very easy and accessible site for me to monitor. It is also exciting because it has ably demonstrated the value of partnership working, and how with critical mass, relatively small habitat improvements are snowballing both up and downstream from the original work plans as word spreads; this is quite typical for projects that the WTT is involved with!

Pre & post some weir notching we undertook on Eastburn Beck at Lyndhurst Wood. The channel width is narrower with more natural pool, riffle, and depositional features

Buried Stream Project Wins National Prize

Posted on September 19, 2016



I'm delighted to say that the Porter Brook Deculverting project was selected as the 2016 Winner in the Canal & Rivers Trust for "Contribution to the Built Environment". This was a multi-partner partnership project (with key involvement of Sheffield City Council, the Environment Agency and more) that I was fortunate to have the opportunity to design the in-channel habitat features to provide the best functional benefits for trout and the wider aquatic foodweb.

As well as my previous blog posts on the subject, the awards scheme made short videos (less than 2-minutes) long that captured key elements of each project entry. You can see the film for the winning Porter Brook project below. Please enjoy and share (and also check out the other project videos on YouTube from this year's awards).

Buried Stream Project Wins National Prize

Posted on September 19, 2016



I'm delighted to say that the Porter Brook Deculverting project was selected as the 2016 Winner in the Canal & Rivers Trust for "Contribution to the Built Environment". This was a multi-partner partnership project (with key involvement of Sheffield City Council, the Environment Agency and more) that I was fortunate to have the opportunity to design the in-channel habitat features to provide the best functional benefits for trout and the wider aquatic foodweb. The Sheffield Branch of Trout in the Town "SPRITE" are caring for the habitat as well as monitoring the aquatic life in this new section of daylighted urban stream.

As well as my previous blog posts on the subject, the awards scheme made short videos (less than 2-minutes) long that captured key elements of each project entry. You can see the film for the winning Porter Brook project below. Please enjoy and share (and also check out the other project videos on YouTube from this year's awards).

Restoring longitudinal connectivity: a more holistic approach

Posted on August 23, 2016

Restoring longitudinal connectivity: a more holistic approach

Anyone who knows anything about fish in the UK will surely know Dr Martyn Lucas, the head of the Aquatic Animal Ecology Research Group within the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Durham University. He’s an absolute legend and all round good bloke with whom I have done some research in the past. From amongst the many projects he is involved with, his group has published two papers this year revolving around fish passage issues. The first was led by Mike Forty (supported by the Catchment Restoration Fund, CRF) who wrote a layman’s version for us in Salmo and whom I have written about before on the WTT blog pages. Below is a quick summary by Martyn, reproduced with his permission, regarding the second output which included brown trout and bullhead as the study species.  

Jeroen Tummer’s paper concerns longitudinal connectivity restoration for stream fish communities, particularly in terms of the use of ‘nature-like’ passage solutions and obstacle removal, and the utility of a more holistic approach for evaluating outcomes. One of the key findings of our study is that quantitative fish surveys don't do a very good job in telling us whether connectivity restoration work for stream fishes has worked or not in the short term! There are much better ways of doing this as illustrated in the paper. However, they do provide valuable, contextual evidence about changes in the fish community towards or away from the restoration objectives, including those in the longer term (so long as standardised monitoring at a regular frequency is continued).

Friends of The Dearne - Tescos Scissett Habitat Workshop and Balsam Bash

Posted on August 22, 2016

The many willing volunteers who cleared a big stand of Himalayan balsam and many sacks of rubbish in Scisset
I had the privilege of contributing to a great event that was set up by Phil Slater (Friends of River Dearne) and hosted by both Don Catchment Rivers Trust and The Wild Trout Trust.

It was also (importantly) supported by the local branch of Tesco - whose car park and store front the River Dearne runs past in the little West Yorkshire village of Scissett - and also by the Environment Agency.

The concept was simple - invite local volunteers to join together and remove the invasive, non-native Himalayan balsam, clear-up litter and also learn some simple river-habitat protection and improvement techniques.

This last part is why I was on site - to run a mini "habitat workshop" to explain the appropriate balance between light and shade; as well as the huge importance of "cover" habitat or refuge for different stages of a wild trout's life-cycle. When take together, removing the competitive dominance of the invasive plants (which not only benefit native plants - but also the bugs and other wildlife that...

A previously buried section of stream produces the first fly caught trout in >160 years

Posted on August 18, 2016



As near as I can work out from the archaeology report, this section of river - recently brought back to the surface in dramatic fashion by Sheffield City Council, the EA and the WTT partnership - was buried in a low brick tunnel somewhere around 1853 to 1868. The northern half of the site was certainly buried underground BEFORE the time the 1853 map was produced....and the rest of the brick tunnel was placed over the top of the stream before the map of 1868...

Of course, it is not easy to tell what the water quality was like in that section even BEFORE the stream was buried...and whether there were trout surviving in the stream when it was sealed underground...

What is damned sure is that you couldn't wave a fly fishing rod around in that underground tunnel once they'd built it!

This was still the case until the completion of the massive project to remove the brickwork and create an attractive "pocket park" in the city centre. You might have seen from This Previous Blog Post that SPRITE have already been finding some wonderful invertebrate life here.

So...

Food web responses to habitat rehabilitation

Posted on August 04, 2016

Food web responses to habitat rehabilitation

Connectivity is a recurrent theme of my blog posts. Last year I wrote about plans for notching some of the redundant low mill weirs on a tributary of the River Aire, local to me. Those plans will come to fruition in the next few weeks as Pete Turner (Environment Agency) and I have had our bespoke environmental permit consented to progress the works, so I’ll report back to show you how the channel is evolving. I also wrote about making connections and how Mike Forty’s PhD research with Ribble Rivers Trust had thrown up some really interesting results, especially regarding the importance of free movement for precocious parr; the published work is available here.

To communicate the worth of habitat restoration work (in supporting the Ecosystem Service approach & Natural Capital principles) to the wider public and to potential future funders, and thus maintain, increase and maximise the potential impact, there is an urgent need for some simple and accessible assessments that a broad audience can appreciate. I have proposed to use the concept of the food web in this context because: a) the knock-on effects of habitat degradation translate into food web alterations very quickly; and b) the food web is recognised by a broad swathe of society (and from a very early age). Hence, measures of food webs can be used as an engagement & educational tool that will increase the understanding and value of restoration projects, as well as a tangible and effective measure for funding applications.

Just what do we actually know for sure about Invasive Crayfish & Impacts on Fish??

Posted on July 28, 2016

The great strength of (good!) science is that it tells us how confident we can be that what you see is a true effect - or just part of the natural random variation in nature. As humans, we are so often "fooled by randomness" - we see faces in clouds and the image of the Madonna in Fried Chicken...

As one of many fascinating aspects of our own Prof. Jon Grey's research, he has contributed to the understanding of what invasive crayfish actually do "do" in our rivers. You can see his thoughts on the most recent National Crayfish Conference that he attended and contributed to here: NATIONAL CRAYFISH CONFERENCE.

Below you can enjoy some fascinating insights into what existing good quality science can tell us about invasive crayfish

Did you know that there are at least 7 non-native species of crayfish in the UK? What do we really know (by controlled measurements) about their impacts on our native fish - including trout and salmon? Is there a crayfish species that is worse for UK waterways than the signal crayfish? The answer to the last question is yes; but right now it is still only here in small numbers...



 

Making Pools for Sea Trout & Making a Landrover Trap by Mistake

Posted on July 08, 2016

Andy Thomas gives us a great selection of his three favourite projects from last year. These are a quick highlights of his works to improve trout and sea trout streams in his role as Conservation Officer for Southern England for the Wild Trout Trust. Improving an urban concrete sea trout stream is his first stop...

Promoting Rural Wild Trout Stocks Could be a Great Boon to Urban Trout - But How Do You Do That?

Posted on July 04, 2016

Most rivers run through human settlements at some point during their length. Paradoxically, because the fragmented ownership (or previous water quality) of urban rivers has traditionally discouraged fly fishing clubs, the wild trout populations are often very healthy. 

Andreas Explaining How Opinions and Practices Related to Wild Fish are Changing (see video below..)
A regime of benign neglect (rather than removal of cover for insects and fish through over-zealous manicuring) and also the reduction of competitive or genetic impacts from extensive stocking often gives rise to some excellent wild trout fishing in urban settings.  That is so long as the water quality is good enough and there is a viable source of colonisation for wild fish... So, perhaps there are additional benefits to both reducing the number of straying stock fish from heavily-managed rural reaches - and at the same time increasing the supply of well-adapted, stream-bred fish throughout the river system? The big question is - how do you hope to shift such a dominant and long-lasting practice in fisheries that are highly valuable in financial terms... ? Bearing in mind that such fisheries are also subject to some of the strongest rituals and codes of practice when it comes to both fishing and also...

What have the Romans/Wild Trout Trust Done For Us (this year)?

Posted on June 29, 2016

A Five Minute run-down of what the Trust has done with your donations and in-kind support between summer 2015 and summer 2016.

If you think some/all of these things are a good thing, then please support us by donating £3 per month (or even go for life membership or another donation) on this link:

Coping with climate change

Posted on June 02, 2016

Coping with climate change

After the winter spates and ‘unprecedented’ flows rearranged much of the substrate of my local river, the Aire in N Yorkshire, there has been virtually no rain since. Consequently, it is already at late summer level, and the lack of energy has allowed thick scums of bacteria and other microbes to develop on the bed. The lethargy of some of the trout seems to reflect that of the river. And the forecast is for a hot summer, allegedly.

This leads me to my monthly scan of the literature for research involving brown trout, which has thrown up two recent papers assessing impacts of climate change via modelling. The first was a study of trout populations from two streams on the Iberian Peninsula, where trout are at the edge of their natural distribution. Ben Tyser reported for WTT on earlier work in this region – see the WTT Library (Articles by topic) page on Climate Change: Iberian trout threatened by climate change.

Extinction of Experience

Posted on May 23, 2016

Extinction of Experience

April was a quiet month for me as my academic commitments stole the lion’s share. But I can’t believe we are already at the end of May! May is probably my favourite month…. here in North Yorkshire, the ramsons and bluebells are in full swing and the beech buds burst to dapple them in shade and provide such a vibrant, fresh green for a week or so. And then there are mayflies of course but that’s another story.

 

Olive Uprights! First Invertebrate Sample Results from Deculverted Porter Brook by SPRITE (Sheffield's Trout in the Town affiliated group)

Posted on May 10, 2016


I'm very pleased to be able to say that life is starting to recolonise after the extensive works to open up the culverted section of the Porter Brook at Matilda Street.

It was a delight to receive the photos on Twitter showing some of the aquatic creatures that are beginning to colonise the daylighted section of channel.



Some of the different beasties that have already moved in include Baetidae (agile darter nymphs), Gammaridae (freshwater shrimp), Heptageniidae (flat "stone-clinging" mayfly nymphs), as well as Oligochaete worms, Caseless caddis of the Hydropsyche and Rhyacophila genuses.

Hopefully the newly-created variation in channel depth, velocity and structure will provide lots of opportunities for more species and individuals for a long time to come.

If you live within striking distance of Sheffield and you want to get in on future invertebrate monitoring and other works in the streams and rivers of the city, you can email them on sheffieldsprite@gmail.com and also see their website at http://www.sheffieldsprite.com/