Same again September – Insights from our intern, Hannah

September has probably been my busiest month at the Welsh Dee Trust so far! Packed full of electrofishing, SmartRivers, MoRPh surveys, litter picks, and more…

We have held two more SmartRivers training sessions for volunteers to become SmartRivers invertebrate identifiers, alongside the regular fortnightly sessions to get through the spring invertebrate sample on the River Alyn before the next phase of sampling begins for Autumn on the River Alyn, River Ceiriog, and the Aldford Brook… The race is on!

We have again been out electrofishing, flying through September to finish our sites before the end of electrofishing season (September/October) when fishing is halted to prevent harm of adult salmon and sea trout returning to the rivers and streams to spawn over autumn and winter. We have found promising numbers of salmon in some rivers, however, there are still many where fish barriers, low flows, and habitat degradation mean salmon are not currently present, so here’s to more work over the next year to combat these issues for the salmon!

Combined with the routine litter pick along the Saltney stretch of the Dee (where we collected a whopping 13 bags, plus a pile of large fly-tip items!), we also carried out a fun day of litter picking followed by some art creation! This pick was along the Chester stretch of the Dee, along the meadows and over to the bandstand side. The majority of litter collected in Chester was made up of plastic bottles, food/snack packaging, and cigarette butts, painting a picture of the littering problems of a city – quite literally as we got to work creating artwork and messaging from the waste collected.

On the subject of arts and crafts – towards the end of the month we had a stand at the Great Big Green Week Festival in Chester, where along with our regular tub of invertebrates and information boards, we went armed with a brand-new caddis craft! The craft was simple enough, comprised of only a toilet role tube, big wooden bead and some double-sided tape, but turned out to be a HUGE hit with the kids and is one we will definitely be bringing to future stand events.

Maddy and I also ventured out to observe a school visit carried out by Severn Rivers Trust to get a feel for how to carry out such visits. After getting twenty-odd primary school children welly and waterproofed up, we went off to the River Vyrnwy to learn about invertebrate sampling and biometrics. After sampling the invertebrates, the children used their ‘harry pooters’ (turkey basters) to suck up invertebrates of different types and place them into the ‘sorting hat’ (a compartmentalised tray). Each type of invertebrate (caddisfly larvae, mayfly larvae, Gammarus shrimp, etc…) was given a score from 1-10 based on their value as an environmental indicator of river health. This was a fun and interactive way to get kids involved in their local river and learn about the importance of the hidden bugs below the surface!

As we now go into October, I am becoming ever more aware of how little time I have left of my internship and will absolutely be making the most of my final weeks! See you next week for the final entry of the series!