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Riff Raff Diary for June 2013

Published on: 8 Jul, 2013
Updated on: 11 Jul, 2013

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir

Riverbank tales from our local St Catherine’s Lengthsman/Weirkeeper

by Robert Craig

June has been a busy month strimming and mowing with the warm damp days encouraging plenty of growth.

I strimmed the towpath from Millmead Lock to St. Catherine’s recently in readiness for the visiting boats attending the Guildford Festival Boat Gathering, which took place on Saturday (July 6).

I found time during June to pull yet more of the invasive Himalayan Balsam found along the river. A good amount was pulled up near the roller which guided the tow-rope of the horse drawn barges around the sharp bend under St. Catherine’s Hill.

You may have noticed that the vegetation is cut short by the roller; the reason for this is to allow boats navigating to have a clear view of oncoming craft on what would otherwise be a blind bend.

At the end of the month, myself and two colleagues got together to winch out a couple of large alder trees which had fallen into the navigation just by the old Cranleigh railway line bridge, downstream of Unstead Lock.

This is normally an enjoyable task with the challenge of working out the best method for achieving our goal, which we did, I am glad to say.

Helped by his daughter, Rob refreshes the paintwork on Millmead Lock

Helped by his daughter Josie, Rob refreshes the paintwork on Millmead Lock

Some of the flowers to be seen along the river at the moment include the Meadowsweet (once used for its aspirin-like qualities), Hemp Agrimony (once used as a cure for jaundice and to cleanse the kidney and bladder), and the Yellow Flag Iris.

Ayellow flag iris - Photo Fungus Guy Wikimedia

A yellow flag iris – Photo Fungus Guy Wikimedia

Iris is the Greek word for rainbow – to the Greeks this flower symbolised life and resurrection and is associated with Osiris, the first Pharaoh to become immortal.

Summer visitors by the river include the elegant Common Terns, most often seen flying low along the river and diving for small fish. Normally arriving around April from West & South Africa where they winter, this year I have only become aware of them during the last month.

The Little Egrets are still to be seen on the Shalford meadows as are the Barn Owls hunting around dusk.

See you by the river…

For photos of Terns on the Wey see also Malcolm Fincham’s Birdwatcher’s Diary No. 40.

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