Fringe Box



Riff Raff Diary – April 2017

Published on: 15 Apr, 2017
Updated on: 15 Apr, 2017

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir

Riverbank tales from the local St Catherine’s lengthsman and weirkeeper

by Robert Craig

As winter moves into spring, I’ve spent time finishing off the hedge cutting and strimming of bramble at Stonebridge Wharf. A little late with nesting season in mind but by checking thoroughly I was able to ensure no birds were disturbed.

An alder tree by St Catherine’s footbridge

Also at the wharf there was an alder tree which came down during the high winds to be cleared. Fortunately it had fallen away from the river causing no damage and was relatively easy to clear.

With the grass growing in earnest now, I gave the lockside at Millmead and the visitors moorings along the towpath their first cut of the season – the first of many more to come.

During the coming month, with Easter approaching, the focus will be on getting the locks and bridges painted – always a challenge with the seasonal April showers to contend with. Also there is the vegetation to keep on top of which puts on vigorous growth at this time of year.

A chiffchaff at Stoke reserve – photo Malcolm Fincham

Along the river banks now there are an abundance of Lady’s smocks in flower to be enjoyed.

Lady’s Smock, Cuckoo Flower or Meadowcress – Cardemine Pratensis – photo Wikipedia

In the boggy areas, especially near St. Catherine’s hill, the marsh marigolds are also in flower with their bright yellow flowers. As for birds the chiffchaffs are now with us, also the Little Owls are back in the area, hopefully to stay and breed this time.

A drake garganey (Anas querquedula) – photo Wikipedia

There was much excitement in the St. Catherine’s area recently when a pair of garganey ducks were sighted. They winter in central Africa and visit Europe during the summer months. This scarce duck is rarely seen and is the only duck to breed in Britain but overwinter elsewhere.

See you by the river.

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