‘O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare into the basin
And wonder what you’ve missed’
Unfortunately, not my words but those of W.H.Auden. Nonetheless, he makes a very valid point. If an angler, or for that matter any non-angler, really wants to get to know their water, there is but one thing to do – immerse oneself in it. There are many ways in which you could do this. Here, I suggest a discreet entry rather than the pink tutu off the bridge version. Image aside, in my mind the best way of getting a feel for your water is to get involved in monitoring it. The Wandle Piscators, together with the Riverfly Partnership, have been monitoring the state of the Wandle over the last year and a half – results of which can be found on our Riverfly page.
Riverfly monitoring is a simple process – as described in a previous blog, and those that have participated in the monitoring have learnt much about the Wandle – its aquatic plants, insects, water quality, fish etc:
At the same time, there is the personal benefit of that famous warm fuzzy feeling from contributing to something special – the overall improvement of an urban river. A river that has had a well documented past of constant abuse and thereby demise and one that has suffered from recent tragedy. This, however, is what drives many of us on. Rather than one step forward and two steps back, it is two steps forward and one step back. It does mean that the whole project for the Wandle is a long term one.
One of our greatest satisfactions to date is coming to terms with our river. Understanding her. Seeing how fast she moves, the gradient in which she drops over such a short course, the contents of her limpid waters, her ecology and the plants that delight in her.
Aquatic insects have become an obsession to some of us! We have prodded and tested her for ph, temperature, dissolved oxygen and taken other readings and have built a picture of how she behaves and what affects her and the insects within her. It is this information that allows us to monitor the river.
Aquatic insects are ideal indicators of a river’s health and quality, nature’s litmus test – and sudden differences in numbers are easiest to pick up and act upon in partnership with the Environment Agency. All the aforementioned helps in planning the Wandle’s restoration.
At present we are monitoring eleven sites along the river and wish to expand this. Should you be interested in finding out about the Wandle and have the time and inclination to become one of our trained riverfly monitors, the first step is to contact Will Tall at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will also be participating in the Wandle Valley Festival with a stand in Morden Hall Park on Sunday 7th June, where we will be doing kick sampling demonstrations at 11am and 2pm, and will be able to answer any queries that you might have. Come and join us! We hope to see some new faces in the river over the next few months. As they say, the more, the merrier!