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Massive thanks to all the volunteers who put themselves forward in some difficult times for myself and, potentially, the group. Here is a short video put together from the few clips I've taken over two recent working parties (when I've remembered my camera!). Of course there have been many more events, and please see my older blog entries for some of these.

The raw materials for works towards specific conservation objectives were paid for, in the main, by a grant that the WTT successfully won from the Esmee Fairbairn foundation.

Extra special thanks to the volunteers who just put themselves forward to find out what needed to be done to tackle our challenges; a few that stand out are
Danny G, Paul H, Roger R, Nick J, Gerry C, Steve W, Simon F, Richard C, Dave W, Kate Q, Craig O, Gareth E - As well as the general supporting membership!

Big thanks to those businesses that have taken a hit in order to put something back in to the river that they value so highly:

Paul Hughes/Greentree l…

Latest TinTT/Wandle Trust Partnership works

As regular readers will know, there is a long-running collaboration between the Wild Trout Trust (most recently via the Trout in the Town project) and the Wandle Trust. This September I had the honour of doing some further consultancy on how best to carry out parts of their ongoing in-stream habitat restoration project.

The programme of in-channel works on the Carshalton arm was initiated as part of the WTT Practical visit in February 2011 and is also part of the overall strategy for this section of the river. The strategy was driven by the findings of numerous site visits technical guidance documents that the WTT prepared for the Wandle Trust for use in negotiations with the local Environment Agency representatives. Through this process the E.A. and the Wandle Trust were able to lower/remove a number of weirs as well as to fit a fish pass to a weir that could not be removed. The fish pass and its installation were generously paid for and carried out by the Environment Agency. The stra…

Colne habitat works revisited

I had a really lovely trip up to East Lancashire to meet with Graham Counsell (who had kindly sourced some very useful pieces of metalwork for driving rebar pins into submerged logs; thanks Graham). We took the opportunity to fish up along the section of river that the Trout in the Town branch run out of Colne Water Angling Club have been restoring and protecting over the last few years Colne Habitat restoration video.
I am really glad that I did because we were privileged to encounter a large number of super-healthy, totally wild brownies from tight up against the superb overhead cover provided by the log and brash bank revetments. These soft revetments are structures that the club have installed to slow the "too rapid" rate of erosion in grazed sections of their river. The brashy margins have re-vegetated really well, providing additional bugs for the trout to feed on. Not only that, the trout have a plethora of new and very secure lies beneath the bankside logs and shaggy …

SPRITE Winter events

Hi everyone,

I have a few dates for your diaries for some of the SPRITE winter work schedule.

2nd Oct 2011– wild flower and grass seeding

This is a really important job for a number of reasons. The root structure of grasses and plants stabilises soil banks reducing erosion, so preventing silt entering the water course. It also greatly increases diversity of the riparian habitat which will have a knock on benefit for all flora and fauna. I particularly want to try some seeding in the areas where the EA has previously stem injected the Japanese Knotweed. These bankside areas may well be vulnerable to winter floods, so it is vital that we stabilise these areas.

Meet 9.30 – 12.30 by the Farfield Hotel, town end of Club Mill Roa.


30th Oct – general litter pick,

The first of this winter's litter clean ups.

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE OF VENUE NOW Meet 9.30 – 12.30 AT LIVESEY STREET BRIDGE.



27th Nov – bird & bat box painting and installation

We still have a number of bird and bat boxes constructed an…

Astounding events on new TinTT affiliated river

Two of the new attendees at our "urban conclave" in February this year invited me back to their own urban river recently. The purpose of the visit was two-fold; first of all to do some "mayfly in the classroom" training and also to do a revisit to the site that I had provided a habitat report on last winter. As well as exploring opportunities for access to spawning tributaries, my hosts also kindly allowed me to fish their privately owned section. Sadly this piece of river suffers serious pollution spills every few years. These have included incidents that have wiped out all fish - including thousands of eels. In fact, the only fish to survive one such incident in 2009 were the handful of eels that managed to CLIMB OUT ONTO THE RIVERBANK and ball up in tree roots. Therefore, it was more an act of defiance to make our way up the river with fully rigged fly rods casting into numerous likely-looking spots in the vain hope of proving the water chemistry data wrong. And…

Summer 2011 updates

2011 is turning out to be quite a tumultuous year so far following the great success of our urban conclave and Wandle Practical Visit early on. A changing of the guard in the Sheffield Project as John Blewitt stepped down as chair to pursue a focus in youth angling coaching has lead to a re-organisation at SPRITE (Sheffield Project for Rivers in Town Environments). We have now created several new posts that were previously components of the chairperson's role and have run some fantastic invasive plant removal events (both independently and in partnership with Winn Gardens Tenants and Residents Association (Winntara) and the Rivelin Valley Conservation Group: http://www.rivelinvalley.org.uk/).
Balsam Removal at Winn Gardens: Before
The same mid-stream island after Balsam removal
SPRITE has also purchased some “stem injection” kit for controlling Japanese knotweed infestations and we are in the process of obtaining the appropriate licence to use glyphosate weedkiller next to waterc…

Follow up to the Wandle Practical Visit

Great news once again from the Wandle. The E.A. have played a blinder and installed the fish pass that will give upstream access to the habitat enhancement scheme (see the next post but one below) above this previously impassable barrier. Now all that remains to put the cherry on this is to tackle a second barrier (by partial removal rather than by fish pass) and to get the "tweaks" right on the habitat works.

That just leaves the permissions to be obtained for phased re-introductions of wild trout parr in order to re-establish the self sustaining trout stocks of the Wandle (previous most recent record circa 1930). Can't wait. Well done to all involved (including us at the Wild Trout Trust :):)), at the E.A. and the Wandle Trust for the works on this partnership project.

Grayling population survey from 14th March

The last day of the grayling season saw another band of intrepids take to the river in order to catch up, fish and record the days findings to keep up the record of our river's stocks. The TEAM head out A great day out and evidence that, at least in sections of the river, sufficient grayling have survived the attentions of a large influx of goosander to keep going over another cold winter. We are lucky that there are good areas of cover on the river as well as the steep gradient of the river maintaining a wide variety of current speeds and depths. Dave "Cort nowt" W proving his forum nickname wrong again Goosander are beautiful birds, but freezing over of their normal feeding areas can put a great deal of pressure on dense winter shoals of river grayling. In rivers with a little less varied habitat, the impacts can be very severe and the presence of impassable weirs or other barriers reduce the chances of fish re-colonisation. Of course, the birds are able to fly between…

Return of the Urban Conclave - even bigger and better than the original?

Friday February 25th through to Monday the 28th saw a massive payoff for over 2 years' worth of planning, design proposals, negotiation and persistance (not only on my part, but on the part of the Wandle Trust - in particular Bella Davies and Theo Pike). Members of the local E.A. fisheries team (including Tanya Houston) also pushed forward the important removal of several barriers to trout migration - which will soon see a fish pass added to a large weir to complement the lowering/removal of 3 other weirs. Finally, we had the go ahead to begin the creation of good quality spawning, juvenile and adult trout habitat patches in the upper reaches of the Carshalton arm of the River Wandle: the next step in returning truly wild self-sustaining trout populations since their demise in the polluted waters of the 1930s.

Whilst seeking to arrange this year's "Trout in the Town Urban River Champion's Conclave", the thought occurred that it would be incredibly fitting to shar…