Community Riverfly Monitoring Experience

Saturday brought another fantastic community day at Tawd Valley Park. A group of around 15 members of the community joined in for our “Riverfly Monitoring Experience” event.

The group gathered together at the usual meeting place at the Tawd Valley Allotments on Manfield in Ashurst, where Mike Flaherty (FoTV), Samuel Gibson (Love My River Officer) and Chris Horsall (WLBC Ranger Service) gave introductions and a talk on what the day was going to involve.

From there everyone headed down towards the valley bottom, taking in the sites of the newly finished project that is the picnic area and community meeting place. If you haven’t seen this area yet, please make sure to head down behind the allotments to check out the brand new picnic tables and benches, raised timber vegetable bed and fruit orchard. Did you know…? When the fruit is ready for harvest, members of the public are encouraged to take some fruit for themselves and their family. Please just make sure to leave some for others.

As the group entered the wooded area of Tawd Valley Park they followed the pathway which led to the first kick sample site of the afternoon. Here Samuel and Mike gave a talk on what wildlife they were likely to encounter when performing a kick sample, the importance behind why people across the UK conduct riverfly monitoring and they also briefed on safety when getting down from the riverbank to the water.

Mike and Samuel then gave a quick 30 second demonstration on how to conduct a kick sample and then showed the group what they had collected in their nets by transferring the contents into white trays. To be fair – it wasn’t that much, but then again, it was only a 30 second demo. Haha.

You could tell that the rest of the group (especially the younger ones) were very keen to get in and try it out for themselves, so they each grabbed a riverfly net, carefully climbed down the bank into the shallows, found themselves a nice position to start their heel kicking and waited for the 3 minute get go.

On your marks, get set, kick… three minutes soon flown by and it was time to see what everyone had caught.

The surprise on the communities faces to see the life that lived within the watery world of the river. Olive mayfly larvae, Crane fly larvae (leatherback), Caddis fly larvae, freshwater shrimp, hog-louse, leech, bloodworm, water flea, earthworm and flatworm.

In a River Tawd first there was also a stonefly larvae capture, which is absolutely fantastic news. We have our very own FoTV committee member – Cornelius Jones to thank for the find.

When everyone had a chance to experience the frill of kick sampling and taking in all the amazing creatures of the river. The team moved on to a question and answer session, before heading back towards the allotments to call it day.

We hope everyone who attended learnt something new and enjoyed themselves, because that really is the main thing. Thank you so much for all who came and a special thank you to WLBC Ranger – Chris Horsall and the Love My River Project Officer (Groundworks) – Samuel Gibson for their help, knowledge and the use of their equipment.

Keep checking our social media platforms and website for updates on events just like this one.

The first ever FoTV recorded stonefly larvae on the River Tawd