Fringe Box



Riff Raff Diary – June 2016

Published on: 3 Jun, 2016
Updated on: 6 Jul, 2016

Riff Raff Cottage and Weir.

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

by Robert Craig

Prior to my taking annual leave, I spent the beginning of May mowing and strimming – a priority with everything growing so fast at this time of year.

St Catherine’s and Millmead locksides and moorings were cut, together with the visitor moorings along the towpath and the narrower sections of towpath towards Guildford. I also gave Stonebridge Wharf a good cut.

On my return, for one day, I had help from West Surrey National Trust Volunteers at Stonebridge and in Shalford Nature Reserve. We spent the day clearing stacks of cut tree branches and pulling emerging Himalayan balsam.

In the reserve there were a couple of fallen willow trees to clear from the pond embankments and more balsam to be pulled. Their help was much appreciated.

Just downstream of Broadford Bridge by the Railway Line Walk I finished the backfilling of a hurdle repair on the towpath bank with turfs.

This will stop the water encroaching until further work is carried out to this section of towpath. Also up on the Railway Line Walk itself there was some cutting back of vegetation to be done.

I finished the end of May the way it started, with the locks being mown and strimmed, some of the towpath strimmed and the grass cut with the ride-on mower at Stonebridge and Broadford allotments.

In the meadows surrounding St Catherine’s the numbers of spring migrants arriving has been increasing over the last month.

There are several garden warblers singing away around my house now, numbers of swallows and house martins continue to rise as do the numbers of swifts.

A great place to observe these superb flyers is above St Catherine’s Lock as they skim low over the water scooping up tiny insect prey.

Also look out for, (pardon the list) whitethroats, willow warblers, sedge warblers, linnets, and on the backwater common sandpiper.

See you by the river.

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