Survey of Buntingford’s River Rib

Following on from the article by Sarah Perry of the Herts & Middx Wildlife Trust in last months Journal on the parlous state of our local river, a number of concerned residents joined Sarah, and our local mayor, Graham Waite on Wednesday 15th May and carried out a survey of the river. This was done by walking it’s length through the town from Wyddial Bridge in the north to the council recycling centre in the South, making observations, taking notes and photographs.

It became clear that up until the entry of the sewage outlet just above the recycling centre, that the flow on our local chalk stream, one of only ~200 in the world was nil-minimal and that the river was over shaded in many places preventing growth of natural chalk stream plants.

The group made several suggestions as to how this could be rectified and we agreed that these would be collated into an action plan, which would include discussions with Thames Water (operator of the Sewage plant) and Affinity Water (supplier of water to the local area). Sarah also informed of a number of other concerned groups, both for the Rib and other Hertfordshire rivers with a view to sharing views and co-ordinating actions.

All in all a very useful session, not the least of which being in the May sunshine, how beautiful our local river still is and how it could be much, much better!

David Edwards

Standon Mayday

The weather was dry and reasonably warm at May Day this year and judging by the number of visitors to our stand and the conversations we had throughout the day, our presence was very well received. Young and old were intrigued by the collection of riverflies and other invertebrates that we managed to find in the river below Standon bridge. Watching an olive mayfly emerge from the water and fly off was particularly special – and we had some excellent conversations and introductions.

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Preparing riverfly larvae specimens for public inspection

Brook Lamprey

This is a short clip of brook lamprey that we found in the Rib near Braughing a few years ago, which I heard were still spawning in the river this spring.

They belong to a small group of stone suckers called Agnatha (meaning jawless) that are the most primitive of all living vertebrates. Eel-like in appearance, the seven gill pores behind each eye are useful identifiers, along with the distinct, sucker like mouth with strong, horny, rasping teeth.

 Further information on these fascinating creatures and their life-cycle can be found in this excellent PDF from English Nature.