Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Missing Dippers

No, not a comment on my catching technique (although it has been known on rare occassions!). Last night whilst Paul was larking around at Llanerfyl, myself and Lloyd went dippering on the Redlake. Despite its name the Redlake is actually a small river sandwiched between the Clun and the Teme. It rises in the South Shropshire Hills just south of Newcastle-on-Clun and flows down into the Teme near Leintwardine.  It is usually crammed-full of dippers. There were at least 10 breeding pairs earlier this year and we ringed 36 chicks from 10 successful nests.

We started off checking some new boxes Lloyd had erected during the spring on the very upper reaches of the river. Nothing, but this wasn't too surprising as the river is very low at the moment, especially up that high. As we worked our way down the river, alarm bells started to ring. Bridge after bridge where I would have expected to find birds was empty. By the time we had finished we had caught just 4 out of a total of 5 seen. Two of these were at a new site Lloyd found earlier, in the roots of an overhanging tree, which I'd never checked before. A normal number for the same stretch (but at fewer sites) would have been about 12 - 15!  I will contact the Environment Agency later to see if they are aware of any pollution incidents and to alert them to a potential problem.

At the last but one bridge (empty again!) as we stood on the bank peering down into the water at a large 2lb-ish trout in the torch beam, a dark shape suddenly loomed out of the depths, grabbed hold of the fish and carried it to the surface just 4 ft below us!!  "Pike!  No hang on,  Otter!!   That lifted the spirits a bit. No photos I'm afraid.

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