Riverfly Monitoring Training at Tawd Valley Park

Wednesday saw FoTV along with other groups and organisations of the Douglas Catchment Partnership come together to receive their Riverfly Monitoring Training down in Tawd Valley Park.

Mike Duddy of the Mersey Rivers Trust, who was the teacher for the day, started off at Skelmersdale Library with welcomes and introductions. He then proceeded with the classroom side of the workshop, beginning with health and safety and an introduction to Riverfly monitoring. Mike then moved on to teach the class about risk assessments, disease awareness, recording, INNS, riverfly identification, life history and ecology.

After the theory half of the training was complete the group moved to the Tawd Valley Park to get stuck in with the practical side of the Riverfly Monitoring Training.

Mike was the first into the water to show the team how to conduct a complete and thorough kick sampling procedure. After everyone was confident of what was needed, it was the turn of the trainees to get wet and have a go at kick sampling for themselves.

Mike showing how its done, while Sara watches intently

Two sites along the River Tawd were chosen. The first site was directly under Houghton’s Road Bridge. This site was shaded and shallow. The second site was about 200m downstream of the first site and offered plenty of sunlight and the water was a little deeper.

Second site activity

The two sites produced some interesting results. Both sites contained freshwater shrimp, olive baetidae mayfly larvae, hog-louse, leech and flatworm, but the second site also contained cased and caseless caddisfly larvae, were as the first site did not. The conclusion for the lack of caddis seemed to point to the absence of sunlight at the first site, this down to the constant shade being cast by the bridge over the water.

It was a fantastic day and hopefully every trainee took away a wealth of knowledge and the confidence to go out out and document and record the local invertebrates on their local waterways.

This training will help to accurately document and record riverfly populations, understand & improve river health and to protect and conserve habitat for wildlife in and around the River Tawd and Douglas Catchment area. When more kick sampling sessions are completed at the River Tawd, the data collected will greatly help towards ongoing national efforts in cleaning up British waterways and will also help in comparing against other rivers within the UK.

Massive thank you(s) to Skelmersdale Library for providing a function room, Mike Duddy and the Mersey Rivers Trust for the training, Samuel Gibson and Jake Oseland of the Love My River Project, who were Mike’s right hand men for the day, the WLBC Ranger Service for okaying the use of the Tawd Valley Park and to the Douglas Catchment Partnership for joining us and making the day a great one.

If you would like to find out more about The Riverfly Partnership and riverfly monitoring then please visit: www.riverflies.org and to find out more about the Mersey Rivers Trust please visit: www.merseyrivers.org