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C.A.T.C.H. Action Day 6th July - Report VIDEO

Monday 14 July 2014, 17:49
By Dave Smith

C.A.T.C.H. is off to a great start this year, having completed 2014’s first planned action day, on Sunday 6th July. Check out this video to get a better idea of what the team is all about. There were three specific items on the agenda for the event:

  1. The usual litter-pick of the town stretch of the river, its banks and its immediately surrounding public grounds.
  2. Removal of Himalayan Balsam; an invasive, foreign plant species causing significant damage to the river’s native ecosystem.
  3. The mapping of drainage outlets along the river to aid the identification of potential sources of residential or industrial pollutants.

After congregating on the bridge at the Recreation Ground for a briefing, the participants split into three groups. The first headed North to Shatterwell Shoots to work back down the river, clearing rubbish and mapping drainage outlets. A second group headed South towards Lidl and the skate park and worked back up river.

Briefing at HQ, on the recreation ground bridgeParticipants equiping themselves with litter-pickers and high-vis jackets

A third group remained near the play area, within sight of the bridge HQ, where the largest concentrations of Himalayan Balsam were spotted. Large clumps of the invading plant were pulled up and laid on the riverbank to dry in the sun, ensuring the plant and roots die without spreading seeds again.

As usual a fascinating array of objects have been removed from the river. A “For Sale” sign, a chair, plastic piping, what appeared to be a very old fireman’s water hose nozzle, a child’s fetching pink bicycle, a small pink scooter, a mountain bike in remarkably good condition, CD/DVD security cases (probably from Morrisons, and a sign of shoplifting), and of course the usual pair of pants; in this case a very lovely pair of lady’s knickers.

Kids in the river with litter-pickersA clump of invasive Himalayan Balsam removed

A couple of team representatives remained at HQ to engage the passing public who showed interest in what was going on. Tea and cake supplied there at the end of the day is very important part of the long-term strategy.

C.A.T.C.H. enjoys healthy local support, and this event was no exception, with about 10 kids and 10 adults taking part. Funding acquired by the group has provided safety gear and tools to help with the work and reduce risk. Everyone was suitably equipped with wellies, high-vis jackets and litter-pickers.

Litter-picking near the river, under the recreation ground bridgeC.A.T.C.H. merchandise now available to purchase at the gift shop

The team continues to encourage children to participate. It seems important to give them a way to relate to the river’s habitat, in the hope they’ll grow up with more respect for nature and be less likely to abuse it, now and in later life. Rather than trying to keep people away from the river, a better long-term approach might be to encourage people to enjoy the river, kids to play in the water, to prevent the psychological detachment that appears to result in the channel being casually used for waste disposal.

C.A.T.C.H. members have undergone training to enable them to perform ‘kick sample’ tests at various intervals throughout the year. This is a method of monitoring the quality of the river water by disturbing the bed and carefully catching the invertebrates that live there. The quality of the water can be gauged approximately by studying the species and populations. A drop in numbers and/or species can be an early warning of emerging pollutant conditions. The invertebrates can be seen as the ‘canaries’, of the river. Hopefully we’ll see quite the opposite, and have a record to show the positive effects of the team’s ongoing work.

South squad returning to HQ for tea and cakeTea and cake after several hours of good work

The team is very pleased to report that both Chub and Brown Trout have been spotted in our section of the Cale. This is a very good sign indeed, given that positive underlying conditions must be present to support the ecosystem on which these fish are dependent. One of the resident Kingfishers was sighted again, and some Damselflies and small fish were even caught on the video.

Watch the Window for further reports on the team’s progress, as well as announcements of future planned events that you might like to participate in. The C.A.T.C.H. blog covers their work in more detail, along with observations of the river and it's wildlife.

Little posers, suitably proud of their impressive accomplishment


Posts: 1
Chub and Brown Trout?
Reply #1 on : Thu July 17, 2014, 10:26:06
Were they found below the small weir next to Lidl or on the top side nearer the Cale Park? This is really good news. I believe that the Brown trout is the UK indigenous specie, under pressure from rainbow trout escaping from fish farms.

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