Rubble, gravel and wagtails

October 29 & 30

After  a few weeks’ break we were itching do some more restoration work and so a nice mild October weekend saw our volunteers back in the river downstream of Butter Hill Weir.

People were soon hard at work digging out rubble and raking back the substrate:

A mid channel island soon began to take shape:

A deeper channel was created linking the weir pool and the fish pass flows, creating more attractant flow for the fish pass.  The deeper water will also benefit fish which that are resting before ascending the pass.

Seven tonnes of flint gravels were then introduced over the two days to provide a more natural chalk stream habitat.  The gravel will become home to bug life and may even be used by fish for spawning sites.  The improved flow should also help keep the gravels free of silt along the fish pass wall.

A group of volunteers filled buckets with gravel…

… while others carried them to the river and over the fence…

… to be carefully lowered into the river and then spread on the river bed:

An audience soon gathered and a number of them were inspired to help shovelling too!

Break times were always welcome, cheese scones …hmmm!

Jo and her delicious cakes (the way to a volunteer’s heart is always through their stomach!)

After finishing the work we all stood and admired the work and saw a  grey wagtail fly in and bob along the new gravel bar.  Wagtails have nested at this site previously and the new gravel bar will be ideal habitat for them.  We plan to introduce  a bird box designed for wagtails at this site in the near future.

The finished work.  Over time the gravel colour will tone down, water plants will grow in the river and the gravel bar will be vegetated with aquatic plants to provide more habitat diversity.

Many thanks to all our volunteers: Abi, Alan, Anne E, Ann W, Chris, Emma, Erica, Georgina, Helen, Jez, Jo, John N, John P, Paul, Rob and Toby.

This event was supported by the WATER project selected within the scope of the INTERREG IVA France (Channel) – England cross-border European cooperation programme, co-financed by the ERDF.

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